In 2015, the Supreme Court gave same-sex couples in the U.S. the fundamental right to marry. Prior to that, there were a whole fourteen states that had not decriminalized the practice. Luckily, Colorado was not one of the states that had to be shaken out of a firm arbitrary stance against gay and lesbian marriages.
The one-of-a-kind move was met by heavy resistance from several corners of the country, but the nation has since seemed to move on. While the ruling came as a win for same-sex couples across the country, it unfortunately came with the same enigma that heterosexual marriages carry for when it is time to divorce.
Understanding divorce in same-sex marriages
Division of property, child custody and support, and the award of spousal maintenance are all issues that must be decided under Denver divorce laws. While the bulk of these issues will be handled the same way as in regular marriages, some areas may prove a little complicated due to the sheer nature of the marriage.
One of the major issues revolves around child custody and parental responsibilities. In most same-sex marriages, only one of the spouses is a biological parent to the child, which translates to automatic custody if the divorce is treated the same way as that of a heterosexual couple. Apparently, that’s what happens if there were no agreements made between the spouses during the marriage.
For the non-biological parent to have a claim in the physical and legal custody of the child, they have to apply to adopt the child, a process that will, of course, take the consent of the biological parent. When that is the case, the court will handle awarding of custody as if both spouses were biological parents to the child.
Under current law, a non-parent is not required to pay child support. Colorado’s child support statutes also takes into consideration a scenario in which another person outside the marriage has certain legal obligations when determining child support.
While the law is expected to evolve in light of the 2015 Supreme Court Ruling, the determinations are still largely being made on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, same-sex couples will have clear cut marriage and divorce laws and potentially the same rights as in divorces between a man and a woman.
Divorce and length of marriage
Same-sex couples seeking divorce in Colorado may have issues as regards the length of time they have been in the marriage. This is because Colorado courts take this into account when deciding division of assets between the spouses. Same-sex couples in Colorado may have been long-term partners prior to their marriage, but it is still unclear if the judge will consider the time the two were in civil union when determining asset distribution.
Due to the lack of clarity in a number of unique scenarios that may arise during a divorce case, mediation makes for one of the most sensible ways divorces between same-sex couples can be finalized. Talk to your partner about it and get a lawyer to help you with the negotiation.