Divorce is nobody's cup of tea, but throw in the recent legal developments regarding homosexual marriage into a divorce situation and the whole thing can get really messy. Issues about custody, alimony, property, and a host of other potential problems can rear their ugly head, especially if you live in a state where gay marriage was recently legalized. To help you maneuver this complex jungle of legal and moral factors, here are three things to keep in mind when going through a same-sex divorce.
Keep everything in the same state
The slow legalization of gay marriage across the country led to a sort of exodus of gay couples traveling to places like Massachusetts, New York, and California to get married, and then moving back to their native state to resume their lives as a married couple. This situation, however, overlooks divorce, since in many states that don't allow gay marriage, the same goes for gay divorce. If at all possible, getting married and living in the same state to avoid a "wedlock" of sorts should be a priority, and if you're planning a divorce, one of the first things that should be done is move back to the state where the marriage was performed, as often there will be a required citizenship phase before the state will recognize the divorce.
Custody will be less clear cut than with a heterosexual divorce
In heterosexual divorces where the child is that of both the husband and wife, the rules of custody are fairly straightforward and well understood. On the other hand, in gay couples, there are two options: the child is equally of both spouses, or the child has one legal parent in the marriage, regardless of by what means the parent is the legal parent. In this second case, custody and child support can get murky, with some states requiring nothing of the estranged parent and others imposing support necessities on a case-by-case basis. When in doubt, talk over your state's specific laws regarding same sex custody with your lawyer before getting too far along in the proceedings.
Property can be a mixed bag
While many same-sex couples together today may have been together long before gay marriage was legalized in their state, the hard part about this aspect of gay divorce is that the property division occurs on property acquired after the marriage. In short, it can be tricky or even impossible to get the courts to intervene about homes, cars, or other property that was acquired jointly before the marriage was finalized. While checking with your lawyer may prove fruitful, dividing up property that was shared before the marriage officially occurred may need to be settled out of court.
Contact a family lawyer for more information.