The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the 2015 landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges that gave same-sex couples the same right to marry as heterosexual couples — and New Hampshire’s own laws permitted same-sex marriages back in 2010. Unfortunately, with same-sex marriages, you eventually get same-sex divorces.
While same-sex and heterosexual divorces unfold similarly in many respects, same-sex divorces do sometimes have unique challenges.
One of the major complications that same-sex couples face when divorcing has to do with property division. The date of their legal marriage may not align with when a same-sex couple’s relationship actually began.
Many same-sex couples were in committed “marital-like” relationships before their marriage was legally recognized. Because of the obstacles they faced to have their marriage recognized, a judge may sometimes backdate the start of a same-sex couple’s marriage to an earlier date, meaning that a larger number of assets may end subject to property division in divorce. The longevity of the relationship may also affect a spouse’s right to alimony as well. This can be very helpful for same-sex spouses who earn very little compared to their husband or wife.
Another complication that often arises when a same-sex couple divorces is that only one of the spouses may be the actual biological parent of the couple’s child. The other spouse may not have formally adopted the child, but yet they serve as a co-parent. The court must choose whether to extend parental rights to the nonbiological parent beyond once a same-sex couple divorces.
Many same-sex couples entered into domestic partnerships or civil unions before it became lawful to wed one another. You may find that you need to dissolve both your marriage and domestic partnership when you split to avoid further complications down the road.
Any divorce can be complicated to settle, but dissolving a same-sex marriage may be especially so. An attorney can help you navigate the same-sex divorce process so that you can move on with your life.