When a couple decides to close the door on the chapter of their lives spent as a married couple, there is plenty of pain to go around. In many cases the last thing either party wants is a long, drawn out legal battle. However, even when same sex couples wish to pursue a collaborative divorce, they often find that the law prevents them from doing so.
This unfortunate occurrence results when same sex couples who married in a state that recognizes their union as legal moves to a state such as Florida which prohibits same sex couples from marrying. Relocating to another state that recognizes their union or returning to the state where they tied the knot is often financially impractical or impossible. As a result, the unhappy couple is often left in a legal limbo.
Issues such as spousal support and child custody are also complicated by the ending of a same sex union where the couple has relocated to a state that does not recognize their union as legal. Even when the couple wishes to devise a mutually satisfactory arrangement, for joint child custody for example, it may be difficult to do so unless both parents have established a legal bond with the children of the union either through biological parenthood or legal adoption.
However, the June 2013 United States Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act may pave the way for a legal solution to such dilemmas. There are indications that same sex marriage will eventually be legal across the entire United States. This development would remove many of the barriers that prevent same sex couples from seeking divorce mediation and other means of ending their legal status as couples.
Source: The New York Times, “Ruling on same sex marriage may help resolve status of divorce,” Erica Goode, July 2, 2013