Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Georgia, we are receiving many questions about same-sex divorce. Some people fear that because the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling did not mention divorce, Georgia might prevent or challenge same-sex divorces.
However, various legal cases around the country already show that courts are holding up same-sex divorce as a right that accompanies same-sex marriage. Current legal discussions also generally confirm that same-sex divorce is now as clear a process as same-sex marriage.
Here are the key points you need to know about same-sex divorce in Georgia:
Same-sex divorce works just like divorce for heterosexual couples.
Previously, Georgia law prevented courts from giving out same-sex divorces even if the same-sex couple had a legal same-sex marriage in another state. Today, that law is obsolete and no longer applies after Obergefell v. Hodges. Same-sex marriage is legal—and so is same-sex divorce. Types of divorce such as contested and uncontested divorces, mediation, and legal separation now apply equally to same-sex couples.
Shorter marriages may affect financial settlements.
Georgia may not recognize the full length of your relationship if you were married in another state, under a domestic partnership, or cohabiting for many years. This means your case may be hurt with issues like alimony, which is calculated partly based on the length of your relationship as recognized by the court. As a result, spousal support for opposite sex couples may result in higher financial awards than with same-sex couples for a while.
Courts may struggle to divide assets and award support fairly to same-sex couples.
Despite the law, many cultural biases still exist when Georgia courts are analyzing who gets assets, property, alimony, and child support. Depending on where you live, courts may struggle to decide who gets what between two men or they may have a bias toward a biological mother in a lesbian couple. I will carefully guide you through your case and consider how judges and courts may view each same-sex spouse in your situation.
Be especially careful about same-sex child custody.
With kids involved, a judge or court not experienced with same-sex divorce cases may make irrational decisions based on cultural bias rather than remaining objective. For example, biological parents may be automatically favored because the idea of a biological mother makes the most sense to a judge. Overall, having an experienced same-sex divorce attorney is essential to helping you anticipate obstacles that may specifically plague same-sex couples.
In the long term, the Georgia legal system will eventually become acquainted with same-sex divorce, acquire more experience and precedents in handling such cases, and arrive at a point when the differences between opposite sex and same-sex divorce cases are barely seen. For now, absolutely make sure you’ve got an experienced attorney on your side.
If you have questions about your rights or how the new law affects your situation, please contact me to set up an appointment for consultation.