Many California residents are aware of the challenges gay couples have had to face in the past few years concerning the ability to get married. However, some people are unaware of similar challenges related to allowing same-sex couples divorce.
A big problem that affects many spouses when it comes to property division is the amount of time they were married. Gays and lesbians were only legally permitted to marry for a short time, but many of them were together for several years before the laws changed. Those couples believed themselves to be married long before they received the state’s blessing. Many of these couples commingled assets or purchased homes together before getting married. One woman reported being with her partner for 17 years before marrying in 2008. When the couple later split, the judge only considered the date of the legal ceremony, despite the fact that the women registered as domestic partners in 1996.
Another problem is that only 13 states and the District of Columbia currently allow gay couples to marry. Most of the remaining states will not recognize a same-sex union, even for the purpose of dissolving it. Some couples have to travel in order to marry in a state where it is legal. They then end up living hundreds or thousands of miles from the state that solemnized their unions. That means that some couples have to move in order to divorce – an expensive prospect, considering that most states will require a person to establish residency before granting a divorce.
Divorce may be complicated regardless of if it involves same-sex couples or not. A licensed family law attorney may be able to help guide same-sex couples through the divorce in order to make the process seem easier.
Source: CNBC, “For gay couples, divorce comes with extra costs“, Eun Kyung Kim, August 06, 2013