One thing that has been floating through my mind for a while is that many same-sex couples preparing to enter into a marriage or domestic partnership aren’t aware of the realities what happens in the event of a divorce. This idea is reinforced by a quote from a New York Magazine article on the pitfalls of gay divorce. The article itself touches on a number of issues that become important when a same-sex couple decides to file for divorce (if they were lucky enough to marry) or instead decide to end a civil union or domestic partnership.
“Gay folks are not prepared to deal with what comes with marriage,” he says. “Not a clue what they’re getting into. When I tell people I’m getting divorced, most say, ‘I had no idea you even had to do that! Oh my God!’ ”
Considering all the effort that has been put into securing the right to enter into a domestic partnership, civil union, or same-sex marriage, it is a shame that same-sex couples are not always aware of what happens when that relationship ends.
California couples in a domestic partnership may be able to avoid the courts altogether if they satisfy the requirements of a summary dissolution. Basically a couple must be together for less than 5 years, have no children, agree not to ask for support from each other, and the amount of property owned together must be small. Most importantly, both parties must agree to this. A similar process is available for terminating short-term marriages. The California Secretary of State published a guide that details the requirements for ending a domestic partnership through filing of a notice of termination of domestic partnership with the secretary of state.
What same-sex couples may find most surprising is that many of the issues that are commonly litigated in a divorce are likely to apply to them as well. Having kids would prevent you from taking advantage of the simplified termination procedures, and for good reason. Issues about child custody and child support can be the most contentious part of a difficult divorce. One couple discussed in the New York Magazine article realized things wouldn’t work out when they started going through counseling that was required before they could adopt. Other common issues in divorce include deciding how to split the assets, and whether or not one spouse should be required to pay spousal support to the other.
Though most couples don’t meet with an attorney before entering a domestic partnership or marriage, meeting with an attorney at the start of the divorce process can help avoid some of the surprise when common issues arise. No matter where you are in the process, consulting with an attorney can help you make your decision with a better understanding of what is at stake. Attorney Paul D. McGuire at the Law Office of Paul D. McGuire can help you with this and other issues with your relationship. Call (858) 242-5667 today to schedule a free consultation.