Same-sex couples in Colorado might be concerned to hear that while federal and some state laws have been advanced to provide them with rights to marriage, the issue of same-sex divorce is still unclear. Consequently, this is making it so that some same-sex couples are finding themselves trapped in marriages that they don’t want to be in anymore. Because state and federal laws differ on the topic of same-sex marriage, numerous complications arise when these couples attempt to get a divorce.
If a state doesn’t recognize a marriage, it often will not allow a divorce. However, that state will also not allow a new marriage, even to someone of the opposite gender. This is causing some divided couples to find that they can’t commit wholly to any new relationships. It could also leave their estranged spouses with significant control over certain decisions. For instance, if a spouse becomes terminally ill, the decision to prolong or end treatment goes to his or her legal spouse. This could pose a huge problem if spouses have a contentious relationship and no longer trust one another.
When some states legalized same-sex marriage, many couples rushed to them to obtain their marriages. Since then, those who have sought a divorce have found that many states that will allow them to divorce require one or both of the spouses to reside in that state from at least six months to a year.
When a couple chooses to separate, they face many contentious issues, such as property division, alimony, and sometimes child custody and child support. While this is difficult enough for heterosexual couples, same-sex couples don’t have a legal history to protect them, nor would both spouses be the biological parent of any children involved. A family law attorney could assist them in negotiating the terms of their settlements.
Source: The Daily Beast, “The Gay Divorce Trap: When Same-Sex Marriage Goes Wrong“, Lizzie Crocker, September 30, 2013