The U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states in 2015. Family law judges from across the country have increasingly been put in situations needing to adapt their decision-making to the nuances that same-sex divorce and child custody matters pose.
These situations have shined a light on the differences between same-sex and heterosexual divorces. Knowing what these differences are may aid in preparing for negotiations in your divorce or child custody case.
Child custody among same-sex couples
Until same-sex marriage’s legalization and even in other situations today, it is not uncommon for only one spouse to be a child’s biological parent or adoptive one. If a child came into the picture before same-sex marriage’s legalization, there may have never been a formal adoption process by the non-biological parent. Issues arise in such instances.
The non-biological parent may have long been serving as co-parent yet not have established any legal connection to the child. A judge who may not have presided over many same-sex custody matters may be hesitant to give parental rights to a non-biological parent who never established their parentage once the marriage ends.
Same-sex couples and the handling of property division
Another unique issue to same-sex divorce is determining when the relationship began to categorize assets as either separate or marital.
Many same-sex couples joined together in civil unions or domestic partnerships before eventually being permitted to marry. Some judges tend to backdate a same-sex couple’s marriage to when they joined together in one of the above-referenced legal relationships, impacting the distribution of assets. This same logic may impact spousal maintenance or alimony negotiations.
How to tackle the complexities of a same-sex divorce
No two divorces are the same. Various factors including recently passed laws, financial means and parental rights, are just a few factors that may affect how divorce or child custody negotiations unfold. Your knowledge of the ins and outs of same-sex marriage can help as you settle your divorce.