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The issues surrounding same-sex divorce

The Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 led to changes in the handling of same-sex unions in Michigan and the rest of the country. One thing that also changed: how same-sex divorce was handled. According to the Huffington Post, the state statutes in play prior to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage made divorcing for these couples difficult.

Some states imposed residential requirements for divorce that were not in place for marriage. Couples who went to one state to get married not only found it difficult at times to get their union recognized; they also were unable to get divorced in some situations. Now that marriage is legal in all states, so is divorce. However, that does not mean that all issues have been resolved. It remains a complex situation that requires special attention.

When a couple divorces, the length of the marriage comes into play when determining division of property, alimony and other aspects. In some states, community property only applies after the legal union. With same-sex unions, many couples lived together for years or even decades before being able to legally marry, impacting the division of property. In common-law states, this might not matter, as there are regulations in place for declaring a common law marriage applied to divorces. 

According to Fox Business, there are other issues that might make handling a same-sex divorce more complicated. Husbands and wives are entitled to certain federal privileges, such as medical insurance benefits or federal tax filing. Until the state laws catch up with the federal law, some of these 1,300 federal privileges might not be applied to same-sex couples. This could impact how a divorce is handled, making it a much more complex proceeding than traditional divorce.

Another issue that might arise is with child custody. In many same-sex unions, the parents must rely on non-traditional means to have children. Sometimes, this is adoption, while other times only one partner is biologically a parent with the assistance of a donor. This could lead to complications about which parent should receive custody in ways that opposite-sex marriages do not.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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