Some same-sex couples who fought for the right to marry in Massachusetts and across the country may have been shocked and disappointed to win that right only to have their marriages come to an end. While it may be a sad reality that same-sex spouses have as much chance of divorcing as opposite sex couples, there can be added complications in a same-sex relationship. When these complications arise, it is best to have legal advice in case one’s rights are in jeopardy.
Among the complexities of some same-sex divorces is the fact that many couples had committed relationships for years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally protected. During that time, these couples may have bonded in the traditional ways married couples do but without the benefit of the legal protections of marriage. However, courts have a wide range of latitude when it comes to periods of cohabitation before a same-sex marriage and how that period of time is treated for property division purposes. Some courts will include perhaps decades of cohabitation prior to marriage, which may place bank accounts, homes and the potential for spousal support in question.
Additionally, same-sex couples may have more complicated custody issues since only one spouse may actually be the biological or adoptive parent. However, the other may have shared in parenting the child since birth. The child may consider both spouses to be parents, and the best interests of the child must be considered when determining custody.
These are only a few of the many complications same-sex spouses may face when they choose to end their marriages. Massachusetts law strives to offer the same protection for the rights of all married couples, but it is always wise to have a professional advocate to ensure those protections. Seeking the representation of a family law attorney who is experienced in same-sex issues can be of great benefit.