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Everything You Need to Know About LGBTQ+ Divorce

  • Due to the lack of marriage recognition in some states, determining marital status and dividing marital property can be more complicated for same-sex couples.
  • Best practices include properly documenting assets, seeking legal advice, reaching an amicable outcome, and utilizing mediation services.
  • Child support and custody arrangements should also be discussed between both parties prior to coming into court.
  • Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help ensure best interests are represented throughout the process. 

Getting divorced is never easy, no matter your gender or sexual orientation. However, LGBTQ+ couples often face unique challenges when navigating a divorce because their relationship status may not yet be legally recognized in some states. Whether you’re just beginning the process of filing for divorce or are already in the thick of it, here’s what you need to know.

Determining Marital Status

The first order of business regarding getting divorced is determining whether or not you are married. This may sound simple enough, but it can be particularly tricky for same-sex couples who were married before marriage equality was legalized in their state (or country).

Suppose your home state does not recognize same-sex marriages. In that case, any assets acquired during the marriage will not be subject to equitable division and distribution as would typically occur in a heterosexual divorce.

Property Division

hands of divorcing couple with their car keys and agreement

Typically, dividing marital property during a divorce is relatively straightforward; both parties are entitled to half the marital assets accumulated while married. However, the process becomes much more complicated when it comes to same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships.

This is because many states do not recognize same-sex spouses as legally married and therefore do not apply traditional laws to divide marital assets between them. When it comes time to divide assets between two same-sex spouses, there are several best practices you should follow to ensure the process goes smoothly:

Document everything

All assets must be adequately documented so that both parties can review them before deciding how they will be divided. This includes bank accounts, real estate holdings, investments, vehicles, etc., and any debts associated with those assets. Documentation helps protect both parties from potential disputes down the line.

Seek legal advice

Suppose you are unable to come up with a mutually agreeable solution on your own. In that case, it might be wise to seek legal counsel from a family attorney who specializes in LGBT divorces and can help guide you through this complex process. They will be able to provide insights into state laws regarding same-sex couples and help ensure that any agreement reached is fair and equitable for all parties involved.

Reach an amicable outcome.

Above all else, try your best not to take things personally and strive towards an amicable outcome where both parties feel they have been treated relatively throughout negotiations over property division. Doing so will help make the process easier for everyone involved and ensure that long-term relationships aren’t damaged unnecessarily due to unresolved issues related to asset division during divorce proceedings.

Utilize mediation services

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement on property division without the help of a third party, consider utilizing the services of a mediator or other qualified professional to help facilitate productive negotiations. A mediator can provide impartial guidance throughout the process and serves as an invaluable resource for couples who cannot come to an amicable resolution on their own.

Custody & Child Support Issues

little child sad and hugging dad

If minor children are involved in divorce proceedings, a court will likely need to determine custody rights and child support payments. In some cases, only one parent may have legal custody rights due to either biological ties or adoption status.

However, courts tend to favor shared custody arrangements whenever possible so that both parents can continue their relationships with their children without disruption following the divorce. In addition, child support payments often become part of these cases and should also be discussed between both parties prior to coming into court if possible.

The Bottom Line

While navigating an LGBTQ+ divorce is often more complicated than other types due to potential legal hurdles around marriage recognition and asset division issues, understanding the basics outlined above can help make things easier for those going through this challenging process.

It is always best practice for LGBTQ+ couples seeking a divorce to consult with an experienced family law attorney who understands the nuances of this particular case so that their best interests can be represented throughout all process stages. With the right legal guidance at hand, same-sex couples can feel empowered throughout their journey toward separation and beyond.

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