The issue of same sex divorce, which has been covered by many media outlets and several times on our blog, has become more prevalent in the wake of the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act. By effectively allowing same sex marriage to be federally recognized, many experts predict a rise in new states throughout the country joining Massachusetts and the other states which have already legalized same sex marriages. Inevitably, these states will have to address the issue of same sex divorces as well.
The issue is unfortunately not as clear cut as it would seem. While same sex couples will presumably be able to enjoy the same rights to divorce which are granted to all marriages, there are still several legal gray areas which lawmakers and other interested parties will need to resolve.
One of these issues is how to handle federal benefits in states which have not legalized same sex marriages. While these couple are now federally entitled to a share of their spouses benefits, this process may be complicated is a state does not recognize their marriage as legitimate. Consequently, these individuals may still need to endure tax penalties not charged to most divorcing couples.
Similarly, many states will need to consider how they will handle individuals who were previously engaged in a domestic partnership. These individual may also be subject to the same penalties mentioned above, as the federal government may not recognize their relationship as a legitimate marriage.
How these issues will ultimately be resolve has yet to be seen, but it is clear that same sex couples may still have many legal issues to overcome. With the help of legal experts in the field of family law, same sex couples will hopefully be able to resolve these problems and equally enjoy their rights to divorce.
Source: Huffington Post, "The New World of Same-Sex Divorce," Frederick Hertz, July 17, 2013