Every family is unique. So is every divorce and family law case. In the past, same-sex couples had additional complications. In August 2013, Minnesota started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The ability to get married has alleviated some of the complications that used to face a same-sex couple who were separating without having had the legal benefit of getting married.
Today, divorce for a same-sex couple is treated the same as a divorce for a heterosexual couple. Minnesota laws for spousal maintenance, property division, or child custody treat couples the same way. However, despite the equal application of these laws, there are some special challenges encountered by same-sex couples getting divorced.
The first is the issue of child custody. If both spouses are legal parents of the child or children, then child custody and child support are treated the same way as any other custody dispute. However, if only one of the spouses is legally the parent of the child, the spouse whose name is not on the birth certificate can encounter serious problems and even permanent roadblocks when trying to get shared custody.
If this situation applies to you and your spouse, you need to to pay close attention to not only the emotional but also the legal nature of your relationships with your child(ren).
Property division is another area to be careful with. In divorce, Minnesota law provides that the court makes an equitable distribution of the parties’ assets. Equitable does not always mean equal! Instead, the court will look to a long list of factors when determining property division.
Because your goal is to avoid going to court, you and your spouse should work through asset division. A general guide is that property acquired before marriage is non-marital property, so it’s not subject to division. It’s easy to see where this could impact same-sex couples, who simply haven’t been able to get married as long as opposite-sex couples.
Even if you and your spouse lived together for many years, an argument can be made that the property acquired before the marriage should not be divided like marital property. This can lead to some seemingly unfair results where parties have been living together and operating as a married couple for years. So it’s important to calmly talk through division of property before there’s no other recourse but to turn to the courts.
A similar problem can occur with respect to spousal maintenance. In general, the longer a couple has been married, the more likely a spouse is to receive support. But again, same-sex couples simply haven’t had as long a time to even be married as heterosexual couples. Again, this is something to work through before any kind of dispute escalates.
At Diyvorce, our professionals have extensive experience in helping clients navigate the additional complications that can come with same-sex divorce. Register today to gain access to additional information and assistance.