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Same-sex couples face particular challenges in divorce

Same-sex couples can run into the same types of obstacles as heterosexual marriages, and for some people in Florida, this can mean divorce. However, there are some additional complications that can arise for same-sex couples that are ending their marriages, such as the division of property and the handling parental rights and custody.

Many same-sex couples had relationships that lasted for many years prior to the legalization of marriage. This means that property division, spousal support and other issues that can be affected by the length of the marriage may be handled differently depending on the discretion of the court. Longer marriages generally carry more weight with judges when deciding on asset division and the assignment of alimony orders.

For a same-sex couple that was together for over a decade before marriage was legalized in all 50 states, it can be a contentious decision whether to recognize the previous years of relationship, especially if one party disagrees. Child custody matters also can pose extra difficulties for LGBT couples seeking a divorce. In many cases, only one partner has legal parental rights even when both spouses have always participated in raising the child. This can mean that one parent faces the risk of losing his or her relationship with the child after the divorce.

In other cases, the challenges can be more practical. Prior to the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriages, many couples filed for domestic partnerships in order to receive health insurance and other legal benefits. While some states dissolved these partnerships and required participants to marry, others left them intact. In these instances, when divorcing, it's necessary for couples to dissolve both the marriage and domestic partnership.

People that are seeking to end their same-sex marriage can get support for the process, whether through contested divorce, uncontested divorce or mediation, by engaging the services of a family law attorney. A lawyer can help to protect the interests of a divorcing spouse and handle matters relating to asset division, child custody and other fraught issues.

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