When same-sex couples finally gained marriage equality in 2015 thanks to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell vs Hodges decision, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community rejoiced. Marriage was finally their legal right!
Unfortunately, “happy ever after” is the ending of fairytales, not a real-life wrap-up. A lot of LGBTQ couples legally married in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision — and many of them continue to be happily married today. Others, however, have found that they aren’t immune to the stresses and pressures that heterosexual couples often face in marriage.
But same-sex couples often face a stronger social pressure to stay married — even when their marriages have serious problems, or they’re completely incompatible with each other. The biggest problem is that every same-sex couple is seen as representative of a group, not an individual union involving unique people. That’s a large burden for someone to carry when they want out of a marriage.
As one article on the issue put it, “LGBT divorce resembles heterosexual divorce from the early 1900s.” Same-sex couples keenly feel the pressure of “failing” in their marriages after struggling so long to gain the right to marry in the first place.
Why? A number of reasons come to mind:
- They’re afraid to disappoint friend and family members who struggled with them and supported their right to marry.
- They’re afraid of being part of a statistic that could be used to defame same-sex marriages in the future or used to deem same-sex marriage as “unstable.”
- They’re aware that child custody laws and spousal support laws haven’t necessarily changed to accommodate the reality of same-sex relationships — especially where only one parent is listed on a child’s birth certificate or the relationship between the couple existed long before their marriage certificate came into being.
It’s easy to get caught up in the painful emotions that surround a same-sex divorce. That can make it particularly hard to focus on practical matters, like the division of assets. Before you take another step, talk to an attorney who has experience handling same-sex divorces in order to gain a more complete perspective of your situation.