When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal throughout the nation in 2015, many people cheered. Some couples, including those residing in Alabama, waited for years to secure the right.
But because it is inevitable that some relationships will fail, the existence of same-sex marriage necessitates same-sex divorce as well. Same-sex couples pursuing this option in Alabama could find this process more complicated than for other couples.
Complications of Same-Sex Divorce
To be able to file for divorce, many states require spouses to live in the state for at least six months. Since same-sex marriage was allowed by other states before Alabama, it’s possible that couples may have married prior to moving to the state.
But some courts may understand that the couple would have married in Alabama sooner if they had the choice, and would allow them to divorce before the six-month mark. It’s entirely up to the judge.
Date of marriage
The date of the marriage may cause issues for same-sex couples living together before getting married. When a couple divorces, their property acquired during marriage is split between the two, sometimes evenly.
But if a same-sex couple lives together before marriage was legalized simply because they weren’t allowed to, some of that property could be included. Currently, some judges will factor in that laws prohibited the couple from getting married when spitting property.
In divorce of a long marriage, a judge will likely award spousal support form the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earner. The same issue arises here—if a same-sex couple would have married earlier, but instead had a long-lasting relationship, can the rules apply?
Some judges will include the years of cohabitation without being married and determine spousal support from there. Others may not consider any time aside form the time being married.
Some same-sex couples may have had children before marriage was legalized, either through adoption, in vitro fertilization or other ways. Especially with biological factors, children raised before marriage was legalized can raise some concerns about child custody as well as child support and visitation rights.
Not all of the hurdles divorcing same-sex couples in Alabama currently face are that complex. Others, such as the wording on some divorce paperwork that strictly refers to wives and husbands as opposed to spouses in opposite-sex marriages, are simply in need of updating.
Don’t Navigate The Divorce Process Alone
While same-sex couples currently facing divorce in Alabama may face some challenges in accomplishing their goal, eventually things will likely be worked out.
In the meantime, working with a lawyer—such as Daniel Chambers—who understands how to navigate complex divorces between people of all genders, is a good idea.
Mr. Chambers is a respected attorney in the Alabama legal community who takes pride in successfully negotiating favorable settlements for his clients because he never wants his clients to spend a dime more than necessary.
Mr. Chambers is also prepared to fight for you in the courtroom. He prepares every case as if it will head to trial because he wants to be ready to make the best possible arguments on your behalf at the negotiating table and in court.
Click here to get a free consultation with an experienced Birmingham, AL family lawyer.
This blog post should not be taken as official legal advice.