How is a Same Sex Divorce Different Than a Regular Divorce?

Same-sex spouses have the same right to equitable distribution in divorce as opposite-sex divorces, but conflicts can arise over parental rights if only one spouse is genetically related to the couple’s children.

Same-sex couples have had the right to marry in Tennessee since 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. With the right to marry comes the right to divorce.  The laws governing divorce in Tennessee, whether the couple seeking a divorce is two men, two women, or a man and a woman. In practice, certain points of contention in divorce are more common in same-sex divorce cases. Specifically, some same-sex couples merged their finances and began living in de facto marriages long before the law recognized their marriages, and this can lead to room for disagreement about which of the couple’s assets are marital property and which are separate property. Likewise, same-sex spouses are more likely to face challenges from the other spouse about legal parenthood, even though this problem can also happen with opposite-sex couples when only one parent has a genetic relationship with the child. A Murfreesborofamily law attorney can help men seeking a divorce from their husbands and women seeking a divorce from their wives.

Is Your House Marital Property if You Bought it Before the Court Acknowledged Your Marriage?

Tennessee law holds that all property acquired during the marriage is marital property, subject to division in a divorce; the same applies to income earned during the marriage, regardless of which spouse earned which money. If you got married in 1990 and divorced in 2023, depending on your spouse financially throughout the marriage, you have an incontrovertible right to a fair share of the income your spouse received from employment during that long period. What about if you moved in with your partner in 1990, got married in 2015 whensame-sex marriage became legal and filed for divorce in 2023? What does the court say about the wealth you and your spouse built together during the years before your marriage became official? This will depend upon the manner in which these assets were acquired and held and you need a family law attorney to help you get your fair share of the property you contributed to before and after the court issued your marriage certificate.

Establish Legal Parenthood as Soon as Your Child Comes Into Your Life

According to Tennessee law, a child has the right to an ongoing relationship with both parents, even when the parents are not married to each other. You are entitled to parenting time, but only if you establish your role as a legal parent. Some same-sex couples have a child who is genetically related to one parent but not the other. As soon as your child is born, you should follow the procedures to get the state to list you as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. If your spouse adopts a child, make sure that you also legally adopt the child.

Contact David L. Scott About Dissolving a Same-Sex Marriage

A family law attorney can help you resolve matters related to same-sex marriages that end in divorce. Contact David L. Scott in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, or call (615)896-7656 to set up a consultation.