WITH GAY MARRIAGE COMES GAY DIVORCE

It is an unfortunate fact these days, where there is marriage; there is also a 50% chance of divorce. This applies to heterosexual and gay marriage.

It’s not a subject that marriage-equality groups tend to trumpet on their websites, but gay couples are at the start of a divorce boom. One reason is obvious: More couples are eligible. According to a report by UCLA’s Williams Institute, nearly 50,000 of the approximately 640,000 gay couples in the U.S. in 2011 were married. (Another 100,000 were in other kinds of legal relationships, such as domestic partnerships.) The marriage rate, in states that allowed it, was quickly rising toward that of heterosexual couples:

In Massachusetts as of that year, 68 percent of gay couples were married, compared with 91 percent of heterosexual couples. Another reason for the coming boom is that while first-wave gay marriages have proved more durable than straight ones (according to the Williams Institute, about one percent of gay marriages were dissolving each year, compared with 2 percent for different-sex couples), that’s not expected to last. (New York Magazine). Most lawyers agree that the gap will soon vanish, once the backlog of long-term and presumably more stable gay couples have married, leaving the field to the young and impulsive. (New York Magazine).

No one knows why divorce ever happens, but the fact remains that it does and all couples need to prepare if the marriage appears to be in irreparable trouble.

Gay couples may tend to have more individual assets that are brought into the marriage where the increase in value of the assets, and not the assets themselves, need to be determined for purposes of equitable distribution. There could also be arguments that the assets brought into the marriage were somehow comingled and then it would need to be determined how to distribute those assets along with the assets acquired during the marriage. Spousal support and alimony are also considerations if one spouse makes more money than the other.

If the couple has children, the issue of custody has to be determined as well as support. Custody and support could become very complex. In the case of a female married couple where a donor was used, the donor may have rights to the child and may have to pay child support, depending upon the terms of the contract between all of the parties.

Although gay marriage is now legal and is to be recognized in all fifty states, the divorce and custody laws vary in each state. If you believe that your marriage may be heading for divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate a potential confusing and definite emotional situation.

Questions & Answers from Robin Gray

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