This year, June 26 marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage for same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges. While many of the unions were between long-time committed couples, young same-sex couples may soon discover what married heterosexual couples already knew: Sometimes a “happy ending” can be elusive.
Interests change. Compatibility is difficult. Sometimes marriages don’t work out, and divorce from same-sex marriage will occur just as divorce occurs in heterosexual marriage. It’s another aspect of equality under the law.
Of course, break-ups among same-sex couples have always occurred. Now, the courts are available to provide guidance in the equitable distribution of property acquired during the marriage.
While same-sex couples are subject to the same pitfalls of marriage as straight couples, ending their marriages may present some unique challenges.
Many same-sex couples spent years together before they were able to legally marry. This may present challenges in dividing up assets in the eyes of the courts, which may only recognize those assets accrued during the time the couple was legally married. This issue can be magnified considerably if it is a high-asset divorce.
In Ohio, complexity may be increased for couples that married in other states or countries before Obergefell. Those unions have only been recognized by the State of Ohio for the past year. Individual circumstances, from the couple’s history to the ways they’ve managed finances through their relationship, may factor in to the court’s recommendations for the division of property.
Same-sex couples can also see greater complexity in matters of child custody and child support in a divorce, making the advice of an experienced family law attorney vital to the best possible outcome. In a U.S. Supreme Court case heard this year, the court affirmed the right of a lesbian mother to the custody of her daughter when the girl’s biological mother sought custody.
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Seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer is critical in any divorce. Many couples believe that they can agree to a division of property, child custody and child support, and a lawyer is not necessary. While this may be true in rare occasions, even if both parties agree on most issues, there are likely considerations that must be addressed that they may not know about.
For most married couples, divorce is new, unexplored and often bewildering territory. While the end of a marriage is emotional, confusing, and sometimes sad, finding an experienced guide who can help navigate this new land may save you heartache later on.
The attorneys at Babbitt and Dahlberg are experienced at guiding their clients through all aspects of dissolution and divorce. They can explain the steps you should take to help protect assets now and in the future. They will be your trusted guides to help you navigate new territory during an emotional time in your life.