The challenges of divorce for same-sex spouses

With the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage many have found cause to celebrate.  However, the flip side of that coin is that now gay couples face similar challenges and are subject the same rules as any other married couple.  And unfortunately, if your marriage fails and you want to sever the relationship,   you are required to divorce.  But because gay marriage is relatively new same-sex spouses trying to get divorced may find the process is costly and can take much longer than a typical divorce.  In the few states that offer same-sex divorces the courts are often confused as to how to proceed on various issues.  Making the process long, expensive, and sometimes grueling.

Other complications of same-sex divorce

The complications and challenges facing a same-sex couple seeking a divorce may include:

•    The couple was together for years before marrying and has co-mingled assets, property and incurred debt together.  However, the court may only divide assets and liabilities starting from the date of the actual marriage.

•    The couple had children that were not biologically theirs and neither or only one of the spouses adopted the child/children.  This can cause infinite problems in the areas of child custody, support, and visitation.

•    The couple named each other as beneficiaries, in pensions, estates, insurance policies.  They may also have named one another as executors, and health care proxies and given power of attorney to the other spouse.  In a divorce the court may only divide the assets that accumulated from the date of the marriage.

•    Because a limited number of states recognize gay marriages, some couples married in a state in which they do not reside.  Because divorce is usually granted by the state where the spouses live, states that do not recognize the marriage   won’t grant a divorce.  This means that you may have to return to the state you got married in to obtain a divorce.

•    Federal income tax laws may also affect same-sex couples splitting property or assets may be forced to pay a federal gift tax—an issue that does not apply to straight couples.
Is a New York mediated divorce the solution for you?

While a litigated divorce is difficult for any couple divorcing, a mediated divorce or collaborative divorce may offer more solutions for your situation.  Both mediated and collaborative divorce are non-adversarial approaches that work toward finding solutions that both spouse can accept.  To learn the legal options available to you in your situation talk to a New York divorce mediator today.

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