Divorce can be a difficult and complex undertaking and there are many potential complications that can hinder progress. Having shared assets like homes or cars is on this list of complications, as is having children together. Another complication that can make a divorce extremely difficult is being a same-sex couple. In fact, same-sex couples face many unique legal and financial issues when attempting to get a divorce.
The main barriers homosexual couples face when attempting to get divorced are legal ones. As mentioned above, laws concerning divorce vary state-to-state, and the differences can be vast. For instance, although no state has a residency requirement for marriage, divorce laws that involve residency can be complicated For example, although DOMA was declared unconstitutional on a national level, some states have individual DOMA-like laws. These laws do not recognize same-sex marriages that have been performed in other states. The problem here is obvious—if a state doesn’t recognize you as married, how are you supposed to obtain a divorce there? A possible answer to this predicament would be to go back to the state where the marriage was performed and get a divorce there. Unfortunately, this option also has complications. Some states, New York being among them, do not allow non-residents to obtain divorces in their state. Thus, in order to obtain a divorce the couple would have to become residents of the state, a complicated process that takes time and money.
If these legal issues aren’t mind boggling enough, there are also negative financial aspects that come with same-sex divorces. As mentioned above, most states have residency specifications for divorce that require at least one of the spouses to reside in that state for a specified period of time before a divorce can be filed. For some same-sex couples, this involves spending a lot of money to relocate for a period of time and putting jobs and family situations on hold, to be able to get a divorce. In addition, courts often do not have specific laws regulating gay unions. To obtain a divorce, same-sex couples often have to wait longer, which involves paying an attorney more than a heterosexual couple. As they say, time is money.
The recent striking down of DOMA has given many in the gay community a sense of optimism concerning future marriage equality. An issue that is still widely unaddressed, however, is the extremely complicated divorce process same-sex couples can face.