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Can same-sex marriages end?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2022 | Divorce

The vast majority of our country’s history has included prohibitions on same-sex marriage. However, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized it less than a decade ago, but did that mean that Providence, Rhode Island, same-sex marriages can also end?

Wait, is same-sex divorce not legal?

According to federal law, marriage equality and divorce equality are the law of the land, period. However, as recent court decisions have shown us, the “law of the land” can change, unexpectedly and quickly.

Many states still have laws that bar same-sex marriages and divorces, including some states that actually have state constitutional amendments barring any type of legal same-sex coupling. For now, though, Providence, Rhode Island, same-sex divorce is legal and mandated here and at the federal level.

Child custody issues

Unfortunately, just because divorce equality is the law does not mean that gay divorcees have the same divorce experiences as their heterosexual counterparts. One such example is in the child custody arena.

Child custody law is based on traditional notions of a mother, father and a biological connection. And, while biological connection is paramount, adoption is secondarily recognized as well. Plus, many judges still use their “traditional” notions of relationships and parentages to make their child custody decisions.

The result is that if one Providence, Rhode Island, parent has some biological connection to the child, or if they carried the child in their womb, they may receive preferential treatment in child custody and support decisions. For example, for a lesbian couple, if one of the spouses carried the child, but neither of the spouses have a blood relationship with the baby, the spouse who carried the child may get primary custody.

Property division issues

The family home is most couples’ largest asset, and in an opposite-sex marriage, splitting that asset is common and straight-forward. However, for same-sex couples, this may not be the case. Since gay marriage has not even been legal for a decade, often, same-sex couples purchased their home prior to the marriage.

And, for various reasons, it may be titled in only one spouses name, which means that it is entirely possible that the family law judge may find that the family home is actually not a marital asset. These types of odd outcomes can be common in a same-sex divorce, especially if a couple is unlucky enough to be assigned a Providence, Rhode Island, judge who is not dispassionate about the legality of same-sex marriages and divorces.

Getting help now

All of this is not to say that same-sex couples do not have options to avoid these odd outcomes. Put your relationship in writing before marriage or ASAP after the marriage. This can be done in various ways, like a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.