Legal challenges of same-sex divorce

For many same-sex couples in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriages for same-sex couples, getting married became easy. For some same-sex couples who are now going through a divorce, splitting up may actually be more difficult as things are simply not as clear cut.

In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal in all states, including the 13 states that still banned same-sex marriage. In addition to making same-sex marriage legal, the ruling provided all legal protections that were given to heterosexual marriages. These protections include the rights related to medical decisions and tax benefits. When it comes to divorce, however, states handle the division of assets and alimony in different ways.

When the marriage actually began is a major component to determining what spouses will end up with. The longer a couple was married, the more weight the marriage carries when it comes to determining how much to award a spouse who earned less than the other spouse. Since many same-sex couples could not get married until 2015, many lived together for years prior to getting married. This means that a lower-earning spouse could be out of luck if the court decides not to backdate.

Due to the unique challenges that same-sex couples face, the dissolution of a marriage can be difficult. If the former couple had a cohabitation agreement, a family law attorney may determine if the terms apply to a specific case, especially if the former couple has been together for years and obtained a wide variety of financial and physical assets. If a former couple has children together, the attorney may help one party seek primary custody of the children. Further, the attorney may also seek child support from a higher-earning partner to ensure that the children have what they need.

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