When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015, happy couples celebrated across the country. Finally, their relationships were being recognized by federal law. Now about three years later, some of these couples are joining the 50 percent of American marriages that end in divorce.
Divorce is always a complicated process, but LGBTQ couples face a unique set of challenges. Even though the law changed in 2015, it does not mean all these couples met and fell in love in 2015. Many same-sex couples have been together for a long time. This can complicate matters of alimony and child custody.
Same-sex alimony issues
In Colorado, generally the longer you have been married, the more likely you are to be awarded alimony. Typically, if you have been married for two years, you do not qualify for alimony. If a couple has been married for 20 years or more, the lower-earning spouse may be able to receive lifetime alimony. Alimony is also determined by factors like standard of living and the other partner’s ability to pay.
But what if you are an LGBTQ couple who has been together for 15 years, but has only been married for two? According to a CNBC article, determining when the marriage began likely will be left up to a judge, and proof of the length of a relationship might not be enough to convince a judge. A judge may choose not to include those years, and that would certainly hurt the case of the person seeking alimony.
Child custody issues
In Colorado, same-sex parents can adopt children as a couple. A LGBTQ couple that adopted a child together would face the same kinds of child custody issues as a heterosexual couple. However, if one the parents is the legal guardian of the child, that parent is automatically given preference to be the primary care parent. In Colorado, the non-custodial parent is allowed more rights than many states recognize. Generally, frequent and continued contact between both divorced parents is encouraged. Again, this may depend on the court that reviews your case.
Though same-sex couples getting a divorce face some unique issues, that does not mean there is no remedy for these challenges. If you are facing any of these problems, you might want to consider reaching out to an attorney experienced in handling issues of same-sex marriage dissolution.