Why is divorce for many same-sex couples currently more complicated than for opposite-sex couples?
On July 24th, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo legalized same-sex marriage in the state of New York. Several years later on June 26, 2015, the supreme court ruled Obergefell v. Hodges in favor of that same fundamental right to apply across all states. In the years between this historic event and former President Bill Clinton’s original banning of federally recognized gay marriages, entitled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), laws and protections became frustrating to navigate from state to state. Although same-sex marriage is now considered no different legally from any other marriage, it’s prior legal implications and commitments can cause issues for divorcing couples. At Simonetti and Associates, we offer the best divorce attorney in Suffolk County to help you navigate this confusing legal landscape so you can proceed with your divorce with ease.
The largest complication stemming from this legalization process is based entirely on the state’s individual concepts on when a partnership became legally viable. The time at which a marriage is officially started becomes a major sticking point in divorce cases where asset division and the possibility of alimony comes into play. The shortened period of marriage may result in the incorrect division of assets for alimony. Some states rarely offer the blanket protection of ‘Palimony’, a system similar to alimony for non married couples, but this distinction is complex within the court and is rarely awarded. For same-sex couples who were living together prior to marriage, it comes out to semantics. If a couple has been together for 15 years, but only married for 2 at the time of their divorce, it is sometimes not legally clear as to if the proceedings should rely on the eyes of current law or the eyes of realistic divisions of opportunity vs commitment.
In situations where one party purchased a home or expensive asset prior to your marriage, the judge could consider that asset to be a separate property immune from division. This can become further complicated by the issue of parenthood in same-sex partnerships. Many courts will award custody to the biological parent of a child. If the non-biological parent had not formally adopted the child prior to divorce proceedings, it is possible that the court may not award parental rights entirely. Contact the best divorce attorney in Suffolk County to make sure that you are properly awarded your assets during a divorce.
The law becomes further complicated when domestic partnership arrangements are brought into the mix. Prior to a state’s legalization of same-sex marriage, many couples took to domestic partnerships in an effort to maintain some sort of lawfully recognized union. These partnerships offer similar benefits of financial asset combinations and legally recognized companionship, but now offer more complications. Some states dissolved same-sex domestic partnerships into marriage immediately following their respective rulings, but a large portion of states allowed the pre-legalization rulings to remain. Should a couple has entered a domestic partnership prior to a marriage, and now wish to divorce, several states treat both unions as separate entities that must be settled in separate court appointments.
For further information regarding the history and current status of gay-marriage laws, please contact your local divorce attorney in Suffolk County at Simonetti & Associates. We will work to protect your rights in a same-sex divorce regardless of your relationship position or legal marriage landscape.