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Same-sex couples face divorce complications

Massachusetts was the sixth jurisdiction in the entire world to allow same-sex marriage when we legalized it in 2004.

With the entire United States following our lead in 2015, rates of same-sex marriage have been on the rise.

Unfortunately, this means divorce has also emerged and a few issues unique to same-sex divorces:


The biggest issue same-sex couples face when divorcing involves guardianship of their children.

The courts have typically used biological parentage to determine custody. This can obviously favor one person over the other.

It can be difficult for a partner to maintain a relationship with children of an ex-husband or wife.

Even if they have helped raise a child for years, it can be up to the biological parent to determine if they can see the child after the divorce.

This can create a situation where a partner may wish to share custody but have no legal rights.

Those who insist on letting a court decide risk losing all rights if they are not the biological parent of the child.

Same-sex partners can address custody through mediation, or reach an agreement before going to court.

Length of union

Because laws recognizing same-sex marriage are relatively new, there is the issue of the length of the union.

This is important because many states base the rate of spousal support on the length of the marriage.

Yet even a couple who has been together for 25 years may only have been legally married for ten. The court must decide when the union began.

Was it the start of the legal marriage? Or the beginning of the relationship?

This makes deciding alimony payments between partners a complicated process. It may be decided on a case-by-case basis.

When one party earns significantly more than the other, determining the length of a union can have huge financial ramifications.

Divorce is a complicated and delicate process, and each situation is different. Same-sex couples are encountering unique problems when they enter a divorce.

If you have any questions about the divorce process in Massachusetts, a dedicated divorce attorney can help.

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