Few couples get married with the thought that at some point their marriage will end. Yet while it is accepted that a heterosexual couple should have the right to split up, the path to divorce for same-sex couples in Colorado and elsewhere is still murky. Throughout the nation, a discussion of family law regarding same-sex divorce has been overlooked in the fight for marriage equality. Conflicting state laws governing same-sex marriage are largely to blame and can complicate issues relating to inheritance and child custody as well as divorce.
Many same-sex couples who now wish to divorce were legally married in a state that recognizes such unions but now resides in a non-recognition state. These couples are still legally bound to each other despite their desire to put the relationship behind them and may still be tasked with making life and death medical decisions for their estranged spouses.
Another area where laws can conflict is in child custody. When heterosexual parents divorce, custody is usually the subject of a court order and based upon the child's best interest. The issue is less clear with same-sex couples where only one is deemed to be the biological or adoptive parent. Many states do not recognize de facto parents, and thus visitation rights and child support often are not dealt with in those states.
A person in a same-sex marriage that is ending may wish to speak with an attorney that specializes in family law. That attorney may be able to determine whether a divorce will be recognized by applicable state law, and may be able to help explain the available options regarding property division and spousal support.
Source: Daily Beast, "The Gay Divorce Trap: When Same-Sex Marriage Goes Wrong", Lizzie Crocker, September 30, 2013
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