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Same-Sex Divorce - Why Mediation Will Be the Norm

Posted By Nancy Hetrick, Monday, May 2, 2016

As you know, Friday, June 25th, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling making same-sex marriage the law of the land and you know what that means, don’t you? Same-sex divorce!  Our jobs just go a lot more difficult.

June 30, 2015 

There are so many issues that will be soon confronting us that it’s difficult to even comprehend them all! Like what? Oh, let’s just play a little what-if.

So let’s say Jill and Jane have been a committed couple living in the same home for 15 years, since 2000.  In 2005, Jane gave birth to a baby born via artificial insemination of donor sperm, let’s call her Judy. In 2013, the couple moves to Arizona where their marriage is not recognized until October of 2014.

Now, let’s hop forward a few years to 2017 when Judy is now 12 years old, Jill and Jane decide to call it quits and get a divorce. The fact that they have to divorce is given since their marriage is now recognized. BUT – when did the marital community begin? 2000? 2014? Or not until 2015 with the Supreme Court decision? Oh wait, what if they filed a domestic partnership in Washington sSate in 2007? Does that change things? And just for fun, let’s throw another little twist in. Jane has stayed home with Judy for the last 12 years and Jill is the only income earner.

You see where I’m going with this right? Just because same-sex marriage is now legal does NOT mean they’ve addressed all the complications that go along with it. And in my view, this means that when same-sex couples desire to divorce – and they will – their undoubtedly best option will be a mediated settlement since they will have very few legal precedents for guidance.

There will be the pioneers with lots of money at stake that will forge the way through the courts to fight for their rights but this process will take years, no doubt.  As professionals in this field, our guidance and advice will be critical. I suspect that these couples, after living their lives having to compromise and sacrifice, will be far more likely to choose mediation anyway. They really just want fairness. I would suspect they’ll strive for fairness in divorce also. I plan to be available to help them figure it out.

Tags:  same sex divorce  same sex marriage  same sex mediation 

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