Divorce Complications For Gay Marriages

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe and Boston.com published an article by my friend Peter F. Zupcofska regarding divorce complications for gay marriages that still linger.  Simply put, the legal rights for same sex marriages are not the same as heterosexual couples.  Issues such as inheritance, taxes, child custody, and relocation pose pitfalls for same sex marriages.  The battle for the right to marry in some states has been won, but the divorce laws, should a relationship dissolve, are still incomplete or not recognized.


State laws against gay marriages can affect inheritance.  A gay spouse is not eligible to receive the pension benefits of a deceased spouse.  This was brought to light when Massachusetts Congressman Gerry Studds died and his male partner was denied the same rights as a heterosexual spouse.


In one case, a divorcing gay couple had to pay $250,000 in capital gains taxes to transfer ownership of a Provincetown house from one husband to the other – a heterosexual couple divorcing wouldn’t have faced that tax.  Currently, the Federal government does not recognize same sex marriage, so the division of retirement accounts and other similar assets can have unique tax ramifications as well.

Child Custody

During a same sex divorce, depending on which state, child custody can become a problem pinning biological parent against legal guardian.  Who wins custody?


Moving from a state which recognizes same sex marriages to another state that does NOT can cause problems in the event of a divorce.  The divorce may not even be allowed because the state doesn’t recognize that type of marriage in the first place.  North Carolina joined the overwhelming majority of states in amending its constitution to say that the only domestic union recognized in the state is marriage between a man and a woman.

Though every case is different, one thing is certain. You need sound advice and effective representation during this critical period of your life. Because the decisions you make now will shape the course of your life for many years to come. Contact Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates to get started.

Boston Globe Article

Alimony, Divorce

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