When couples get married, the last thing on their minds is getting divorced. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that probably half of all couples getting married will get divorced. While these situations can be complicated for couples of the opposite sex, they can be even more complex for same-sex couples. While the Marriage Equality Act passed in 2011 granted same-sex couples many of the same rights given to opposite-sex couples, there are still some aspects of these divorces that can be hard for those involved to understand. Because of this, it’s imperative for these couples to utilize the services of an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in the area of same-sex divorces.
Obligations Associated with these Divorces
When a same-sex couple chooses to divorce, there are a variety of legal obligations both individuals must abide by. Just like traditional marriages, one spouse may be required to pay spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, to the other spouse if ordered to so by the court. Along with this, property obtained by the couple during the marriage will be distributed equally by the court, as will any debts incurred by the couple during their marriage. However, it’s important to note that if one spouse obtains debts during the marriage that are deemed to be for non-marital purposes, they will likely be held solely responsible for those debts. As for any debts incurred prior to the marriage, only the spouse who incurred those debts is held legally responsible. Additional information about the Marriage Equality Act and the requirements of spouses can be found at www.nysdivorcelawyer.net.
According to same-sex marriage statistics, about 25 percent of same-sex couples who are married have children as part of their family. Because of the Marriage Equality Act, child custody laws concerning these couples is much the same as they are for heterosexual couples. For children who were adopted by the couple or conceived through in-vitro fertilization, New York state will likely recognize both spouses as the legal parents of the children. However, in situations where one spouse brings a child from a previous relationship into the marriage, child custody can become very complex, since other parties may be involved. In these situations, it’s crucial to work with an attorney who has dealt with same-sex couple divorces and custody issues in the past, since they will have the experience and knowledge needed to navigate the complexities that accompany these cases.
Much like child custody in these cases, property division can also be complex. While New York laws do cover many aspects of property division among same-sex couples, problems can ensue when it comes to such issues as dividing pensions, 401(k) plans, and how the division of property will affect the couple’s federal taxes. As an example, opposite-sex couples are allowed to divide retirement accounts and pensions without initiating early withdrawal fees and taxes, but same-sex couples cannot take advantage of these benefits. In addition, heterosexual couples avoid capital gains taxes when they divide property, but same-sex couples do not. More details on this topic can be found at www.divorcelawfirmnewyork.com.
As stated earlier, when same-sex couples divorce, one spouse may be ordered by the court to pay spousal maintenance to the other spouse to assist with living expenses and possibly child support. However, as with other financial issues in these situations, a number of complexities may occur. For example, since federal law states that spousal maintenance is not tax deductible, it can pose potential financial hardships on the spouse required to make the payments. It’s also important to note that spousal maintenance payments are viewed by the federal government as capital gains or gifts, which makes them subject to federal taxes. Because of this, it’s important to work closely with a divorce lawyer experienced in same-sex divorce cases, since they will possess the knowledge and experience needed to help clients understand the potential financial consequences they may encounter.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you find yourself part of a same-sex couple who has decided to part ways and seek a divorce, it’s extremely important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. By doing so, you’ll be able to not only discuss your case in great detail, but also learn about the many complexities that go along with these cases. While many details are similar to those encountered by heterosexual couples, knowing the differences that exist in same-sex divorces can allow you to make informed decisions regarding a number of issues.
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