America banned LGBT marriage up until 2015, forcing these couples to go to different states, or even different countries, in order to tie the knot in a legal ceremony. The Supreme Court finally ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right for gay couples across the country, ultimately giving LGBT individuals access to the same legal rights that heterosexual couples have long possessed. With marriage legal, these couples can share health insurance with their spouses, benefit from tax breaks and social security payments, and unassumingly enjoy life as a married couple. It’s been a tremendous relief for these individuals to be able to enjoy uniform marriage rights from one end of the country to the other. When it comes to divorce, however, various states have their own laws and requirements. And to be very clear: sometimes divorce can be a little more complicated for LGTB folks.
Significantly lower than the rate of heterosexual divorce, the divorce rate for gay couples is only about 16 percent. However for lesbian couples, the rate is much higher, with over 30 percent of their marriages ending in divorce. Studies suggest that peripheral pressures from their families and from society at large may have a negative impact on the degree of satisfaction in these marriages.
The Basics of Divorce
All divorcing couples require legal grounds for divorce, which are generally irreconcilable differences. If both individuals are not in agreement in the desire for a divorce, or if the couple has children, the judge may require counseling prior to signing off on the divorce. After that, when the requisite forms are filled out, the court can grant a divorce.
Special Considerations for LGBT Couples
While all couples, straight or gay, are subject to the same rules when it comes to divorce, sometimes the circumstances of same-sex marriages lead to some tricky legal questions:
- Property Division: For couples who lived together as a couple prior to the legalization of their marriage property division has the potential to become a can or worms. That’s because, while Florida is an equitable division state, anything owned prior to the marriage is considered a non-marital asset. So even if they lived as a married couple (because they were not legally allowed to marry) assets owned by one or the other at that time would legally go to that person in a divorce.
- Custody and Visitation: Another issue that could be bewildering might relate to child custody and visitation. Since only one parent might be biologically linked to children, the other parent may not have legal rights of custody and/or visitation if they did not legally adopt the kids previously. Obviously, the biological parent would have much more power in this situation, and that could impact one’s ability to share custody, or even to have a legal right to visitation.
- Alimony Amounts: The length of a marriage has a significant impact on spousal support in Florida. Because they may have been legally married since 2015, even if they lived as a married couple for much longer, they may not be legally entitled to the money given to marriages deemed moderate-term (7-17 years) or long term (over 17 years).
Fighting for Best Outcomes
The Boca Raton divorce attorneys at WiseLieberman are dedicated and experienced. They will always investigate the best possible outcomes for you, our client. Despite any difficulties, you can count on us to fight vigorously on your behalf. To discuss your goals in divorce, schedule a confidential consultation today.