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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Blog / Divorce / What are some unique same-sex divorce issues?

What are some unique same-sex divorce issues?

For many same-sex couples, they remember the time before marriage and divorce equality. They remember not being able to get married without traveling to another state, and not being able to get a divorce because their state did not recognize their marriage. The country was a Kaftan patchwork for same-sex couples looking to marry. Though, now that we have achieved marriage and divorce equality, there are still some Lakeland, Florida, unique same-sex divorce issues.

Issues with long-held property

For those couples who were together for years (or decades) prior to marriage, their property is likely in each spouse’s name. This may mean some items, like brokerage accounts, homes, cars, etc., are in one spouse’s name or the other’s. After all, joint ownership for gay couples was not always allowed, but the spouses usually shared the expenses of that property.

For traditional married people, all of these joint purchases occurred in the marriage, so when they divorce, all of this property is part of the marital estate. It is separated based on marital estate property division laws, not based on who is the named owner. For those same-sex couples who made joint purchases prior to marriage though, depending on the facts, one spouse (likely, the one with better credit) may receive a windfall from the divorce. This is because all of the property in that person’s name will not be split, and then, all of the property purchased during the Lakeland, Florida, marriage will also be split.

Child custody

All state’s child custody laws were originally (and, many, still are) designed for “traditional” different-sex couples, where biology imparted child custody rights, i.e., the biological mother and father. However, with same-sex couples, only one parent may be a biological parent, or neither parent may be a biological parent, like when the couple adopts a child together. Though, in a divorce, these legal statuses can cause one parent to lose custody or the other spouse awarded primary custody as a default.

For example, for a gay couple where one father is the biological father, if the other father had not legally adopted the child prior to divorce, he will find it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to get child custody at all. Though, even if that father did adopt the child, a judge may still use “traditional” notions of parentage and give primary custody to the biological father. This is especially common with lesbian divorces where one of the spouses is the Lakeland, Florida, biological mother.

Same-sex divorce stigma

Another unique same-sex divorce issue is social stigma. Because it took so long to attain marriage equality, some couples feel like they are letting down their community by getting a divorce. Even ones who do not feel this way may feel isolated because same-sex divorce is not part of the common discourse, nor shown in media generally. These feelings can cause some to stay together when they otherwise would get a Lakeland, Florida, divorce.

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