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.
When Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, the issue of same-sex divorce went under the radar. While many might assume that with marriage comes divorce, the truth is that same-sex divorce is oftentimes more complicated that those of other marriages. As this blog recently covered, the repeal of DOMA may make same-sex divorces even more complicated. Thankfully, with some knowhow and legal assistance from industry professionals, many same-sex couples can find their way through the complications.
There has been much media hype over the pair of cases dealing with same sex marriage that were before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The challenge to California's "Proposition 8," the voter initiative that banned same sex marriage in that state, has garnered a majority of the attention. But here in Massachusetts, same sex marriage has been the law since 2003. The second case, challenging the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, will likely be much more consequential for a same sex couple that is living here in Massachusetts.
Same sex marriage is currently hotly debated across the country. But with Massachusetts being one of the first states to legalize same sex marriage, that controversy is largely settled in the commonwealth. Now the commonwealth is facing a more practical problem: the process of same sex divorce.
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.
For many couples, getting married is pretty simple. However, other couples experience all sorts of obstacles in the process of legally committing to each other. Same-sex couples, in particular, face legal difficulties when marrying. While Massachusetts same-sex couples can marry, these couples may still encounter difficulties with federal laws.
The Defense of Marriage Act has been in place since 1996. DOMA made it clear that in the eyes of the federal government, a marriage is only between a man and a woman. However, many changes have occurred in terms of gay marriage rights since then. Many Massachusetts same-sex couples have benefitted from the state's legalization of gay marriage.
The number of states where same-sex marriage is legal continues to grow. As more same-sex couples marry and have children in these states, the number of same-sex divorces will likely also increase. According to one report, a national committee is working to find solutions for legal issues which arise as a result of differences in federal and state same-sex marriage laws.
Same-sex couples often run into legal issues if they separate or divorce. If there are children involved, the legal issues can be even more complicated. A recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples in a domestic partnership have the same rights during a divorce or separation as married couples.
Same-sex marriage has received a great deal of attention in Massachusetts in recent years. Several court cases regarding details of laws impacting same-sex couples could be presented to the Supreme Court as early as this year. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently said she thinks it is likely the issue will be before the court soon.