Attorneys
Divorce and Family Law

Guilt may keep same-sex couples in unhappy marriages

Same-sex couples once lacked the legal right to marry — and they struggled so long to obtain that right that a couple who finds themselves unhappily wed may feel guilty about wanting a divorce. That guilt can come from both inside and outside the marriage.

On the inside, couples often feel like they may be reaffirming their relatives’ opinions about the validity or stability of same-sex marriages (especially if some of their relatives seemed to harbor homophobic feelings). Same-sex couples often feel like they are held to a higher standard than opposite-sex couples.

For same-sex couples who have been together in a de facto marriage long before they gained the legal right to wed, there are additional emotional issues. A lot of their personal sense of identity may have been rooted in their fight for equal rights. Getting a divorce can cause their personal sense of identity to take a hard blow.

There’s also external pressure in the same-sex community on couples to stay married. Many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community are hyper-conscious of the fragile nature of their legal rights. If a same-sex couple is having problems, they may feel like they could be a target for detractors who would like to strip those legal rights away from them.

Finally, same-sex divorces can be so complicated that the very idea of pursuing one seems exhausting. If a couple has been together for a long time before being able to legally wed, property division issues may not be easily settled. If they have raised children together, they may face custody and support issues. There aren’t enough precedents established to always tell what is likely to happen.

Nobody should stay married out of shame or guilt. If your same-sex marriage is coming to an end, there are a number of special concerns you may have. Our office may be able to offer the kind of guidance that you need.