Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys in Glendale & Tucson, Arizona
Until 2015, most same-sex couples in the United States were unable to be legally married. The pivotal Obergfell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in every state causally provided for same-sex divorce in every state.
At face value, you would think that divorce works the same regardless of the gender mix of the couple. Unfortunately, same-sex couples experience far more challenges in divorce than opposite-sex couples. Topics such as child custody, support, alimony, and division of assets can be difficult to maneuver in the legal system. Moreover, the courts lack legal precedence regarding many of the issues in same-sex divorce which makes decisions on those matters extremely subjective. Until case law catches up, the volatility of same-sex divorce will remain challenging.
At the Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C., we believe our clients in same-sex divorce should receive all the same considerations and benefits as our clients in opposite-sex divorce. We will fight to protect your best interests. If you live in Tucson, Glendale, or anywhere in the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area, and you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers by your same-sex spouse, we are here to help.
Does Arizona Recognize
Arizona case law yielded recognition of the legality of same-sex marriage in the state in 2014, a year prior to the Supreme Court decision. Married same-sex couples here enjoy all the same rights and bear all the same responsibilities as opposite-sex married couples. This includes the right to obtain a no-fault divorce should the marriage fail.
What Are the Issues Unique
to Same-Sex Divorce?
Gay divorce is often accompanied by unique challenges, including these five:
Many same-sex couples were living as married couples long before they were allowed to legally marry. When the court deals with any divorce, decisions regarding property division, spousal support, and other issues hinge on the date the marriage began. This can be a problem for mixed-sex couples who lived together for a period of time prior to making the union official, but it’s certainly a problem for same-sex couples. After all, they were not allowed to legally wed until 2014 in Arizona so delaying the formality was not their choice. Nonetheless, the brevity of their marriage may be held against one or both spouses.
Arizona is a community property state. In general, any property acquired after the date of the marriage is marital property and therefore subject to a 50/50 division. Same-sex couples might have been living together as essentially a married couple for years or even decades prior to being allowed to legally wed. That means their finances, taxes, assets, and debts would be considered separate, not community property, up until the date of legal marriage.
Likewise, in its calculation of spousal support, or “alimony,” if awarded, the court uses the length of the marriage as a factor. Again, a lower-earning or non-earning spouse supported by the other spouse for years prior to the marriage may be financially devastated if the length of time spent together as a married couple before being able to legally wed is not recognized.
Many same-sex couples choose to have children. One of the spouses may be the biological parent of the child or may have adopted the child as a single parent because gay couples were not allowed to adopt before same-sex marriage became legal. If the other spouse never formally adopted the child, that spouse may have no legal right to custody or visitation after divorce. That spouse would also have no obligation to provide child support for the child.
A spouse could also face substantive tax issues in gay divorce. If the court agrees that, for example, the home the couple lived in long before they were allowed to marry is community property, the spouse whose name is on the property must transfer half of its value to the other spouse. The receiving spouse would be required to pay federal tax on the property’s value.
Personalized Legal Advocacy
Not all family law attorneys deal with same-sex divorce, so it’s important that you choose one that does. The issues are challenging. Individual judges make decisions differently. For example, one judge may recognize property acquired during the time together prior to marriage as community property while another may only recognize anything acquired after the date of marriage in 2014 or later. Having a divorce attorney in Arizona who knows which judges rule one way or the other is to your advantage.
You are facing issues in same-sex divorce that are interpreted and ruled on by the court in highly subjective ways. Your attorney needs to represent your best interests in that ever-changing environment. Without firm legal precedent, your attorney is the only advocate you have.
Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys Serving Glendale & Tucson, AZ
At the Law Offices of Vescio & Seifert, P.C., we are dedicated advocates for clients in same-sex divorce. We understand the unique challenges you face and work tirelessly to protect you. Divorce is never easy, but you face more difficult situations than mixed-sex couples. If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers in Glendale, Tucson, or the Phoenix, Arizona, metro area, call us today to schedule a time to talk.