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Divorce difficulties for same-sex couples

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Massachusetts for quite a few years now. Even though more states have legalized same-sex marriage in recent years, there are still issues that arise for divorcing same-sex couples that heterosexual couples do not have to deal with.

Many of the complications arise as a result of the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act. As long as the federal government does not recognize couples' same-sex marriage licenses granted by a state, same-sex couples will encounter difficulties when dealing with federally-regulated systems. For instance, filing federal taxes and receiving pensions can be challenging for same-sex married couples.

While the Supreme Court could strike down DOMA later this year, until then same-sex couples will continue to deal with the challenges that arise when one's state government recognizes a marriage and divorce, but the federal government does not.

Many of the difficulties that arise when same-sex couples divorce relate to finances. For instance, one report explains that "divorce-related financial transactions are tax-free for heterosexual couples, but not for same-sex couples." Same-sex couples may also encounter difficulties when they begin dividing their assets. If some assets, like pensions, are not able to be divided between the spouses, the couple may need to find another means of dividing their assets-as the Portland Press Herald explains.

Though same-sex divorce is legal, it can be more difficult than heterosexual divorce. Same-sex spouses who are beginning the process of divorce may want to consult an attorney familiar with issues that arise in same-sex divorces, since the process of dividing property or assets may be quite complicated.

Source: Portland Press Herald, "Same-sex divorce raises new legal issues," Eric Russell, Jan. 5, 2013

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