While there are a multitude of laws to guide us through divorce for heterosexual marriages, there is very little law or information on the rights and legal process involved with same sex divorce or break ups. Every state has its on explanation for how it should be done but, the overwhelming consent is that a partnership that can’t become a marriage does not have the rights of a marriage. Those rights include laws that govern what happens should that partnership dissolve.
Same sex couples are similar if not the same as heterosexual couples. Their partnerships may include shared homes, cars, bank accounts; benefit plans and even adopted children. If the relationship ends though, there is very little legal guidance for how to “divorce.”
If the couples did not draw up and sign a contract much like a pre – nuptial agreement that outlined the rights of each should the relationship end they are left with three options to proceed with in finalizing their break-up.
- Doing it without help.
This would be the least costly way. It would maintain the couples privacy and make the process simple and quick. But, since there is no legally binding contract there is no balance of power. One partner may walk away with more than is his/her right. In a situation like this communication and compromise can be hard if emotions are highly charged.
- Hiring an experienced divorce attorney.
This way each side would be legally represented which would mean they would have a trained professional to focus on their rights. If emotions are highly charged it would keep communication between partners at a minimum and they would both walk away with a legally binding contractual agreement as to division of property and such issues.
This option could get expensive since you would have to consider the cost of an attorney. Since there is no need to file with the courts though, couples would not be faced with that extra expense.
- Hire a private mediator.
One option would be to hire the services of a professional mediator. The couple would receive experienced guidance but at less expense than an attorney. They would still walk away with a legally binding contract and, within a shorter time span.
Just like heterosexual couples, same sex couples will continue to build lives together. Just like heterosexual couples, same sex couples will also find that the relationship was not meant to last. How the assets, interests and debts of the partnership are distributed requires careful thought and consideration of any options that exist.