Same-sex marriage was legalized in New Jersey in October of 2013. The US Supreme Court gave it nationwide status in June of 2015. Prior to those dates Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships were the only way for a same-sex couple to enter into a marriage like legal agreement. After becoming a legal option for gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey, almost three thousand same-sex couples exercised their right to marry in the first six months of legalization.
Unfortunately gay and lesbian couples encounter many of the same relationship challenges as heterosexual couples. These challenges have the same effect on relationships, regardless of sexual orientation. Divorce seems to be the inevitable solution to serious domestic problems for an almost identical percentage of couples, regardless of sexual preference. Some studies suggest that LGBT couples may have a slightly better chance at marital success, but there isn’t enough history to confirm or deny that assumption at this point in time.
The newness of Gay and Lesbian marriage is equally reflected in the lack of divorce statistics and even more importantly case law. What this means for the LGBT couples seeking a divorce is that there are some unknowns that have little or no legal precedent to predict an obvious outcome. Although issues such as the division of financial assets should be easily determined based on years of case history and the universal nature of the property in question, not everything in a LGBT Divorce is comparable.
In a heterosexual marriage many of the items acquired as a married couple have more of a gender specific function based on the overall percentages of users. Many times these items are easily divided during the divorce process based on who uses what. Clothing items, toiletries, hobby equipment and tools for specific functions tend to be easily divided by most divorcing couples. On the other hand, marital partners of the same sex would be much more likely to share what might be deemed personal items to a heterosexual couple, further clouding the division of property.
The issue of child custody and support in LGBT divorce are unique and probably the biggest variable. Unfortunately same sex couples don’t have the luxury of just letting things happen when it comes to starting a family. Adoption, sperm donor, surrogate mother and many other variables that a same sex couple faces when starting a family, create a similar set of questions when unwinding the marriage.
Same sex couples can go the traditional route of litigation when Divorcing, but that process may leave them at the mercy of a ruling they didn’t see coming. Rather than face the prospect of being blind sided by a court decision, same sex couples may find the mediation process better suited to a fair divorce settlement they can both live with. A Mediated divorce gives both parties input and the opportunity to negotiate a settlement that works for both parties.
Divorce mediation is about compromise between vested parties, utilizing objective intervention as needed by an impartial mediator. Mediation is just a process for reaching the desired goal. In the end a legally binding and enforceable divorce settlement that works for the divorcing couple and is in the best interest of any children involved may be predictably achieved.
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