When Same-Sex Couples Divorce, What Are the Main Issues?

When Same-Sex Couples Divorce, What Are the Main Issues?

In June of 2015, the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, meaning that all states had to allow same-sex couples to marry as well as honor same-sex marriage licenses from other states. Texas was one of those states where it officially became legal to get married. Since same-sex marriage is a relatively new development, divorce can be challenging, and many questions arise. You may be wondering: When same-sex couples divorce, what are the main issues? By finding out the answer to your question and hiring an experienced divorce lawyer, you can hopefully have as smooth of a divorce as possible.

Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, Texas are certified in mediation, take a collaborative approach with their clients to ensure that their clients reach solutions that work for their families, and are devoted entirely to the practice of family law. They are fierce advocates for their clients and they’d be happy to assist you with your same-sex divorce. Reach out to them today for an initial consultation.

Spousal Maintenance

 When determining spousal maintenance, which is commonly called “alimony,” Texas law may grant more money to the receiving spouse the longer a couple was together. Maintenance timelines are as follows:

  • Five years, if the spouse who is paying it is convicted of family violence.
  • Five years, if they were married for more than 10 years but less than 20 years.
  • Seven years, if the spouses were married for at least 20 years and up to 30 years.
  • Ten years, if the couple was married for at least 30 years.

Other factors that determine spousal maintenance include:

  • The employment skills and education that both spouses have;
  • How each spouse will meet their needs while paying for child support as well;
  • If one spouse contributed to the other’s increased earning power, training, or education throughout the marriage;
  • If one spouse took on homemaker duties; and
  • If there was marital misconduct such as adultery.

Spousal maintenance becomes complicated in same-sex marriages for a few reasons. Because same-sex marriage was illegal in many states for many years, couples did not have the right to marry. However, they may have lived together as if they were married for a long time. This could be a factor in determining whether or not one spouse can receive maintenance. It’s important to consult with a divorce lawyer to try and prove that you lived together as spouses before you got legally married so that you have a better chance of getting the maintenance you need. If you do not earn much income and/or you stepped back from your career to help your spouse, this is especially crucial.

Child Custody and Child Support

 In a same-sex marriage, it’s common for a couple to want to have a child. However, only one of them is going to be genetically related to the child (unless they adopt, in which no one is biologically related to the child). Typically, when it comes to child custody and child support, there is a “parental presumption,” where it is presumed that the husband of a wife is the father of a child. This means that he could be obligated to pay child support if that’s what the court decides.

But what about when there are two mothers? Or what if two fathers used a surrogate? One of them is the biological father, perhaps, but the other is also the father, right? Child support and custody are complex for these reasons.

In one Texas case, a woman argued that she should not have to pay child support to her ex-wife because the ex-wife got pregnant using artificial insemination. However, the court struck this down. In this case, even though the woman was not biologically related to the child, and she wasn’t the “father,” she still took on the role of a parent. Therefore, she was obligated to pay child support.

This argument could also be used when it comes to custody. As long as the partner was there and acting as a parent, then child custody and child support should still be taken into consideration.

Division of Property

Texas is a community property state, so in general, you and your spouse equally own any property you both acquired during your marriage. This applies to assets and debts.

However, what if you were living as a married couple for years before you were able to get legally married? Though you may have a hard time proving it, you may be able to show that you have the right to property your spouse acquired before you got legally married because you were basically a married couple already. It all depends on your divorce lawyer and what the judge determines.

Finding the Right Representation

 Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community still faces discrimination in official and unofficial capacities. People may be biased against same-sex couples and let this get in the way of treating you and your spouse fairly. That’s why it’s critical to hire the right divorce lawyer to help you.

One option that many couples pursue is mediation as opposed to going to court right away. Mediation is typically less costly and less contentious. As long as you have a good relationship with your spouse, mediation is a solid choice. You may be able to settle your divorce quicker and end it on more amicable terms.

It’s important to find a divorce lawyer who has experience with same-sex divorce and the case results to back it up. Since this is more complicated than a heterosexual divorce, your lawyer needs to know the nuances of the law and how to best support for you and your family at this time.

When you meet with your potential divorce lawyer, make sure you ask about their experience and you research the testimonials on their website and review pages online. You can also ask your family and friends for recommendations.

Having someone in your corner at this time is critical. You’ll have a better chance of getting what you need in your same-sex divorce and know that you did everything you could to advocate for yourself.

Get in Touch With Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC

 If you need assistance with a same-sex divorce in Houston, TX, you can reach out to Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC for help. We’ll work hard on your divorce and be your source of support in your time of need. Make sure you get in touch online or by calling us at (713) 333-4430. We look forward to hearing from you.

Attorney Shannon Boudreaux at Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC in Houston, TX offers the extensive experience and supportive guidance clients need to get through their divorce or other family matter as favorably as possible.