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What is unique about same-sex divorces?

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Asset Division, Family Law Blog

Since becoming federally recognized, which forced all of the states to also recognize it, marriage equality has given rise to divorce equality. After all, it was always a matter of time before same-sex couples would start to see their marriages end like their opposite-sex counterparts. However, even as the United States has made the marriage laws applicable to all couples, same-sex divorcees still face unique challenges when going through the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, divorce process.

A perceived stigma

First, many in the LGBTQIA+ community may fear that they will be isolated and stigmatized if they get a divorce. They may feel like they are betraying their history and the community because of how long it took to gain marriage equality.

However, this is the wrong perspective. With marriage equality comes divorce equality. The fight to get married is also the fight to get divorced. It is the fight for equality that matters, which includes the equal right to find your happiness, even when that is separate from your spouse.


Second, societally, we have not normalized same-sex divorce, nor do we really talk about it or see it on national media. As such, some potential, same-sex divorcees may think they are alone in their desire for a divorce.

This is an isolating feeling, but just because you do not see it normalized on TV or in the movies does not mean it does not happen. Same-sex divorce rates are much lower than opposite-sex divorce rates, but divorce is still common, and it is not isolating.

Child custody

Because child custody laws were designed to be gender binary, same-sex divorcees can experience challenges that their opposite-sex or traditional marriage counterparts do not have to face. Or, they face them in different ways.

For example, fathers often complain of family court judges treating them unfairly and giving preferential treatment to the mother in child custody disputes. A couple where one spouse is the biological mother may face this same challenge, even if for lesbian couples. Indeed, biological parentage may become the defining point that weighs heaviest to the judge, even if that is not technically the law.

Property division

Another common issue occurs in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, property division and classifying property as nonmarital. Since nontraditional marriage is a relatively recent legal allowance, many couples have been together for multiple decades, building wealth together. Unfortunately, the law marks the legal marriage as the beginning of their legal life together, which can complicate how assets are divided.