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Phoenix AZ Family Law Blog

Monday, March 18, 2019

How does same-sex divorce differ from heterosexual divorce?

Phoenix same-sex divorce attorneys can appreciate both the differences and the similarities in divorces between their heterosexual and homosexual clients.

All couples getting divorced in Arizona have similar issues to resolve as they go from one to two separate households. Those issues include dividing marital property (including both assets and debts), determining child custody, child support, and parenting time (if there are children involved), determining whether spousal support (aka alimony) will be paid by one spouse to the other-- and if so, the amount and duration of the payments. 
And regardless of a couple’s sexuality, if circumstances later change significantly, court-ordered modifications to child support, alimony, custody and parenting time can be pursued.

Whether LGBTQ or straight, couples getting divorced virtually always suffer emotions that may include feelings of disappointment, fear, sadness, and/or anger over the marriage failing. Having children in the mix can further complicate the issues couples must work through.

A recent case study, which was later the basis of a book on the subject, followed LGBTQ families with adoptive children and examined the reasons they got divorced. In addition to factors that are common to all divorcing couples regardless of sexuality-- like "financial issues, parenting disagreements, and growing apart” --there were other factors prevalent in same-sex divorce which may not be significant issues in many heterosexual marriages, including: 

  • lack of support of family
  • lack of support of religious institutions
  • discrimination in employment opportunities.

Notably, the study noted the divorce rates of LGBTQ adoptive parents after seven years of marriage were: 19% for lesbians, 4% for gay men and 12% for heterosexual couples. 

Potentially explaining the large percentage of lesbian divorces was the observation that women earn less money generally-- and that a lesbian couple would earn much less money --than their gay male or heterosexual couple counterparts. In addition to the general stress of having financial challenges, the study reportedly found that lesbians “would be more likely to adopt children with special needs or older children, so they are faced with a lot more stress”. And all this stress can’t be good for a marriage.

If you have questions about a same-sex divorce, or a heterosexual divorce, or need assistance with any other family law matter, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

From our office in Phoenix, Arizona, we are dedicated to providing all of our clients a high level of affordable, personalized, and compassionate service during this challenging time in their lives. 


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