Regardless of who you are, getting a divorce can be complicated. Of course, for some couples, divorce is more complex than it is for others. For gay couples who are separating, this may be the case, as gay couples may encounter unique issues in the divorce.
At the office of Heather Ward Law, our experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate the divorce process, gay or straight. Please reach out to us for counsel today.
Gay Divorce – Unique Issues that Divorcing Gay Couples May Encounter
When a gay couple is divorcing in Boston, all of the laws regarding Massachusetts divorce will apply to that couple in the same manner that they would apply to a straight couple. For example, a court must consider the best interests of the child when determining a custody arrangement; must divide property in a manner is equitable; and must consider various factors (per Massachusetts law) in making a decision about spousal maintenance. That being said, there are still some unique issues that a gay couple may encounter in regards to the following:
- Child custody. When a child is the biological child of both parties to a marriage, both parents have an equal right to seek custody and visitation with that child. However, when only one parent is the legal parent of a child (either biologically or because of a legal adoption), the other parent may not have the same right to seek time with the child. This is a common problem in gay divorce when both parties are not a child’s legal parents, even if both have raised the child together.
- Property division. In Massachusetts, all property – real and personal – is subject to equitable division. However, because gay marriage has not always been legal in Massachusetts, many gay couples were living together as a married couple before the law officially recognized their union. As such, property may have been acquired jointly before the official “marriage,” yet counted as non-marital property during divorce despite the fact that the couple was living together at the time the property was acquired.
- Spousal maintenance. Similar to a property division settlement, the length of the marriage–and the fact that many gay couples have been together for longer than marriage has been legally recognized in the state–may have an effect on a spousal maintenance order. This is because in Massachusetts, the duration of a spousal maintenance award is based on the length of the marriage. This may be unfair for a party who is seeking an award and has only been married for 15 years (gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts in 2004), but has been with their partner for over 20 years.
Consult with a Skilled Gay Divorce Lawyer
If you are seeking a gay divorce in Massachusetts, working with a lawyer who is familiar with the unique issues that gay couples face when separating is important, and will be a crucial step in protecting your best interests. At the offices of Heather Ward Law, our gay divorce lawyer is ready to discuss your case with you today. Please call Heather Ward Law at (617) 903-8955 or send our law office a message today to learn more.