Navigating Same-Sex Divorce: Understanding the Unique Challenges and How an Attorney Can Help

Same-sex divorce, while sharing many commonalities with heterosexual divorce, presents its own set of unique challenges. As the landscape of marriage rights has evolved, so too have the complexities of dissolving these unions. Understanding these distinct hurdles and the benefits of having an attorney to guide you through the process can make a significant difference.

History of Same-Sex Marriage in Arizona

In Arizona, the journey toward marriage equality has mirrored the broader national trajectory, albeit with its own unique milestones. Historically, Arizona did not legally recognize same-sex marriages. In 2008, the state’s voters approved Proposition 102, which amended the Arizona Constitution to define marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman. However, this ban was effectively overturned in 2014 when a federal district judge ruled that Arizona’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, paving the way for marriage equality in the state. From that point forward same-sex couples in Arizona have had the legal right to marry.

Unique Challenges in Same-Sex Divorce

Same-sex divorces have unique aspects due to the historical context and legal evolution of same-sex marriages. These distinct challenges can sometimes complicate the divorce process:

  • Property Division: Property division in same-sex divorces can pose distinct challenges due to the historical context of their unions. For many same-sex couples, cohabitation and intertwining of assets commenced long before their marriages were legally recognized. This discrepancy can make it complex to determine the start of a “marital union” when dividing assets. As a result, what’s considered marital property versus separate property can become a gray area, leading to potential disputes and complications during the division process.
  • Child Custody and Parental Rights: Child custody and parental rights issues in same-sex divorces often introduce unique complexities due to the nature of family structures. In many cases, only one partner may be the biological parent of a child, and if the non-biological parent hasn’t legally adopted the child, their parental rights might be contested during a divorce. This dynamic can make custody battles more challenging, as the legal system must balance the non-biological parent’s role and bond with the child against traditional legal definitions of parenthood. 
  • Alimony/Spousal Maintenance: Alimony or spousal maintenance in same-sex divorces can present challenges rooted in the historical non-recognition of these relationships. For many same-sex couples, their partnership may have spanned decades before their marriage was legally acknowledged. As a result, when determining spousal support, courts may grapple with considering the actual duration of the relationship versus the legally recognized duration. 
  • Recognition in Other Jurisdictions: The timing of the recognition of same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions poses a distinctive set of challenges. For example, a couple might have been in a domestic partnership or civil union in one state and then gotten married in a different state. This discrepancy can complicate various aspects of divorce that depend on determining the length of the marriage. Furthermore, variations in recognition can lead to uncertainty about the validity of prenuptial agreements or other marital contracts outside the original jurisdiction.

Benefits of Hiring the Right Attorney

Securing an attorney well-versed in same-sex divorces is important due to the unique challenges these cases often present. Their expertise ensures not only that your rights are upheld but also that you are adeptly navigated through the specific nuances inherent to same-sex divorce proceedings. When seeking representation, it’s essential to ask potential attorneys about their experience with same-sex divorces, how they’ve addressed challenges in past cases, and their approach to ensuring fair treatment and recognition for their clients in these situations.

Get Help With Your Same-Sex Divorce

Same-sex divorce presents unique challenges that demand both understanding and legal expertise. Cohen Family Law is deeply committed to guiding you, ensuring your rights are upheld and that you achieve the best possible outcome. Contact us today; we stand ready to assist and advocate on your behalf.