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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

Confronting the potential issues with MA same-sex divorce

For same-sex couples in Massachusetts, one of their life goals was to have the ability to marry legally and have all the same rights under the law as male and female couples do. However, what many are finding is that the risk of getting married also carries with it the risk of divorce, if the union does not work out. While the excitement of being allowed to marry could be viewed as clouding the judgment of those who decide to take that step, that does not alter the issues that could arise when a same-sex divorce becomes inevitable.

What is becoming increasingly clear is the number of states that allow same-sex marriage is still severely limited. If the couple visits a state that allows it, like Massachusetts, they could be confronted with challenges if they decide to divorce and live in a state that has yet to legalize a same-sex union. Couples who divorce used to just have to worry about financial issues, marital property and other common problems that arise when a marriage ends. With a gay marriage, since the union might not be recognized in the state, it can be a difficult process to divorce.

One particular couple chose to marry in Massachusetts, but was forced to live in Virginia due to business considerations. Since they do not live in the state in which they were married, they are unable to divorce. Issues that crop up for gay couples include the same-sex divorce not being legal in the state. Experts suggest that a prenuptial agreement regarding financial issues and property could be a good strategy, just in case the marriage fails. With linked assets and a marriage that is not viewed as legal, there could be a problem extricating them from one another.

If there are children, custody issues could be far more contentious with one parent being biological and the other not. Legal adoption can avoid this. It can also be hard to find an attorney who will take the case. That is not an issue in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, and legal professionals have experience in handling these new kinds of divorce cases.

Source: CNBC, "Gay couples find divorcing has traps," Judith Messina, accessed on Sept. 8, 2014

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