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The importance of a prenuptial agreement for a same-sex couple

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling effectively striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, many media outlets have turned their attention to the issue of same-sex divorce. While the ruling opens up many legal rights and benefits to same-sex couples, it's important to take note of the issues that they will face in the event of a divorce. One of these issues is the cost of same-sex divorces.

Since same-sex marriage and divorce are relatively new in terms of the law, there are still complex issues which have yet to be worked out. Oftentimes these complications mean that the divorce can take longer in court than expected, perhaps significantly longer if there are heated disputes or if the split is an acrimonious one. As the legal system struggles to determine when the financial commitment officially began between the couple, the expenses can add up; in fact, the cost of a divorce for same-sex couples end up being double or even triple the cost of the national average.

To minimize these complications, some experts suggest that same-sex couples take advantage of prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement means that the couple themselves decides how property will be divided in the event of a divorce, rather than defaulting to how the government sees fit to divide it - which, today, is unclear at best. While they may be a difficult subject to bring up for newlyweds or even for those who may be well into a stable relationship, prenuptial agreements can help minimize legal troubles which could end up costing the couple a significant amount of money.

Even though a divorce is a challenging time emotionally, couples who can cooperate with each other and with legal professionals to complete the process may find they emerge in a better position to begin the next chapter of their lives. Legal professionals experienced in handling same-sex divorces may be able to help a divorcing same-sex couple through this transition.

Source: Forbes, "What the end of DOMA means (and doesn't mean) for divorcing same-sex couples," Jeff Landers, Aug. 1, 2013

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