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New Insights Shed Light on LGBTQ+ Divorce 

Published April 14, 2020

The 2015 Supreme Court ruling allowed same-sex couples across the country to enter into marriage. While many married same-sex couples enjoy fulfilling and lasting unions, several are finding themselves on the road to divorce. Until now, little research or information existed about the unique nature of divorce within the LGBTQ+ community. While we explored one recent study exploring the common predictors of relationship dissolution for both heterosexual and same-sex couples in a previous post, there still is not much information out there about the impact of divorce within the LGBTQ+ community. However, a new book called LGBTQ Divorce and Relationship Dissolution: Psychological and Legal Perspectives and Implications for Practice has arrived, offering new insights into this understudied field. A recent interview with co-editors Adam Romero and Abbie Goldberg provides an overview of their findings.

Unique Challenges for Same-Sex Marriages

The co-editors explain that many of the causes of tension within a heterosexual marriage can also impact a same-sex marriage, such as financial worries or infidelity. But Romero adds that there are a few additional stressors for same-sex couples, such as feeling distant from their families (if the families of one or both of the spouses have not fully accepted their marriage), or experiencing workplace discrimination or harassment. Of course, additional research needs to be done to fully understand the scope and impact of these factors.

The Vague Legal Landscape

When same-sex couples are going through a divorce, there are no clear guidelines for how the length of their partnership should be defined. Even though many same-sex couples wed in or after 2015, many of these couples were in committed relationships for years—even decades—before they legally married. During a divorce, the division of assets typically takes into account the duration of the marriage, so it can be difficult to pinpoint an accurate characterization of the union. Child custody issues can also be exceptionally challenging for divorcing same-sex couples, as many states are struggling with addressing how to legally define and recognize the non-biological parent.

Impact on Children

Before this book was published, little information existed on how divorce impacted the children of same-sex spouses. In many heterosexual relationships, the assumption is that women are more likely to take over the caregiving responsibilities of the children after a divorce (although this attitude is gradually evolving). Same-sex couples may face additional barriers when determining child custody arrangements, as a particular judge may assume the biological mother to a child in a lesbian marriage is, by default, more maternal, even if her partner stayed at home to raise the child. As family courts are educating themselves on the unique challenges that same-sex couples face, the co-editors hope that there will be less bias and discrimination affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Here to Serve You

If you and your spouse are heading towards a divorce, it is important that you reach out to a compassionate and experienced divorce and family law attorney who understands the unique challenges you face. Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C. is a warm and inclusive legal practice where we work hard to help you achieve your goals. Call us today at (503) 233-8868 to learn more.

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