The lingering effects of marriage inequality are still hanging on, even though same-sex marriages have been legal throughout the United States since 2015 — especially for older same-sex couples who may now be divorcing. If your same-sex marriage is ending, here are some of the unique concerns that you may need to address:
What legal ties do you have to your spouse?
If you’re like many same-sex couples among the baby boomer generation, you may have established a domestic partnership with your spouse before you could legally marry. While some domestic partnerships were converted to marriages, others were not. It’s entirely possible that you may have to seek a dissolution of your domestic partnership in addition to getting a divorce. That’s an extra step in an already difficult process — but one that you can’t ignore.
Do either of you expect to receive alimony?
If so, you can expect the court to take into account the length of your marriage. For same-sex couples who waited years — or even decades — to marry, this can be a complicated issue. If you expect to be on the receiving end of the support, you naturally don’t want the fact that you weren’t able to legally tie the knot any sooner to count against you. To persuade the court to look past the date of your legal wedding, you may have to provide evidence that a committed relationship was already there.
What counts as marital property (and what doesn’t)?
From a legal standpoint, every divorce is partially centered around the division of property — and same-sex divorces are no exception. However, deciding how to fairly split things into “yours” and “mine” after a long relationship can be difficult because (again) of those old restrictions on same-sex marriages. Negotiation can be key to avoiding a protracted legal battle.
Same-sex divorces involving couples who have been together since before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was repealed need to approach divorce carefully, with appropriate legal assistance, in order to best protect their interests.