Same Sex Divorce
Since 2014’s landmark ruling that an Oregon ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, same-sex couples have celebrated equal protection under the law. Then, in 2015, same-sex marriage was declared federally legal throughout the United States by the US Supreme Court, leading to thousands of more legal same-sex marriages nationwide. It may sound sad, but realistically—just as with opposite-sex marriages—some of these marriages have ended (or will end) in divorce or legal separation.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of legal precedent with regard to legal same-sex partnerships in general, same-sex couples have seen some difficulty with divorce in the past. Prior to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling, all states were not required to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, which meant that many couples who had married in other states were not recognized as married in their home state, thereby precluding them from getting a divorce. In cases where couples were able to obtain a divorce in another state, many had trouble getting the courts to enforce the terms of their divorce agreements in their home states because, again, the state did not recognize the couple’s same-sex marriage in the first place.
Now, however, all states are legally required by the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages as legal partnerships equal to opposite-sex marriages—including with regard to divorce. If you are in a same-sex marriage and you would like to pursue a divorce or legal separation, you now have the legal right to seek and obtain that relief in any state just as any opposite-sex spouse may do. It is important to note, however, that same-sex couples who entered a civil union in Oregon may not be able to have it dissolved in every state, should they move.
Whatever the case, same-sex couples should be aware that divorce does not have to be a stressful or costly experience. With the help of an experienced collaborativeattorney or mediator, same-sex couples can sit down together and agree upon the terms of their separation through a calm and respectful discussion. If you and your spouse have agreed that it’s time to talk about a separation or divorce, consider a Mediated, Collaborative Method or “Kitchen Table” process to keep things cost-efficient and drama-free.