Ever since the Obergefell Supreme Court decision made same sex marriage legal across the country, there have been a lot of questions about same sex divorce, especially since the ruling doesn’t mention divorce. There are rules concerning same sex divorce in Georgia, and the process is fairly clear from a legal standpoint.
Here are some of the main points you need to know.
It makes a difference in Georgia. If you are in a same-sex marriage, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, you can get divorced. Whether it’s a petition for separate maintenance, a contested divorce, or an uncontested divorce is irrelevant. If the marriage is legal, the divorce is too and works the same way as a heterosexual divorce, with a few exceptions.
Unfortunately, the water is muddier for domestic partnerships. The divorce laws that resulted from the Obergefell ruling don’t apply to domestic partnerships or unmarried couples. Many domestic partnerships are legally covered by a partnership agreement, which may stipulate the conditions to dissolve the partnership. If you are in a partnership arrangement with no existing formal agreement, you need to contact an attorney for help.
When it comes to property and asset division, as well as alimony and child support, the courts don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to same sex couples. You can expect some outdated ideas and perhaps cultural bias in court. For example, there may be a bias towards the biological mother in a case involving two women or the court may have difficulty in dividing assets when the couple is two men.
An experienced attorney will know how to handle a courtroom situation that involves potential bias towards one side or another.
One other consideration is that many same sex couples were already partnering long before they could legally get married. Also, some couples were married outside of Georgia. Alimony and other financial settlements take into account how long you were married and may even consider how long you were together. Legally, this creates problems if you were together long before you got married. There may be a diminished financial settlement, such as reduced alimony, given this issue.
Here again the court may not have a lot of experience making custody decisions for a same sex couple, so there may be implicit bias or a lack of understanding of how to proceed fairly. For example, the existing conventional wisdom that a child needs to be with a biological parent doesn’t work very well in a same sex divorce case as it leads to bias over one parent.
Here is another case where an experienced attorney can help make a strong case in court and counter any bias that may be perceived by the judge.
If you are in a same sex marriage and are seeking a divorce in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, Family Matters Law Group can help. We have years of experience helping clients across the Atlanta metro area and are sensitive to the specific needs of same sex couples trying to navigate the waters of a divorce.
Contact us today via our user-friendly online contact form or by phone. While same sex divorce in Georgia may be relatively new, our firm is equipped to help you get the best possible outcome for yourself and your family.