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Legal considerations for same-sex couples

Same-sex marriage fueled a bitter political debate in Florida for many years, but the landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015 appears to have settled the matter. The ruling makes bans against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and gay couples in Florida and around the country now enjoy the same rights and have the same responsibilities as heterosexual couples.

While some same-sex couples living in states that had banned gay marriage celebrated the Supreme Court decision by applying for a marriage license, others may have been filing for a divorce. Some same-sex couples got around gay marriage restrictions in their home states by marrying in states with more lenient laws. However, they were unable to divorce if things did not work out because their home states did not recognize their marriages.

While courts will likely have little trouble applying asset distribution and spousal support laws when same-sex couples divorce, the rules regarding child custody and visitation could present them with some challenges. Only one same-sex partner can be a biological parent to a gay couple's children, and this could make things difficult for family law judges. Legal observers feel that the courts will need time to work through these issues, and the nation's highest court may once again be called upon to settle matters.

Experienced family law attorneys could encourage same-sex couples to avoid the costs and uncertainties of court proceedings by establishing their wishes in a prenuptial agreement. This kind of agreement allows spouses to determine how matters such as alimony and property division will be treated if they decide to divorce. An attorney could also provide assistance to same-sex couples who wish to adopt children.

Source: The Huffington Post, "As Same-Sex Couples Line Up To Wed, Others Celebrate The Right To Divorce", Kim Bellware, July 1, 2015

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