When a federal judge overturned Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages in 2015, it also opened the door for couples wishing to be apart. Many couples had married in other states, and as divorce statistics don’t discriminate, there were couples here in Florida waiting to divorce.
But what does same-sex divorce entail? Is it different than a heterosexual divorce?
Divorce is divorce
Divorcing same-sex couples are now treated the same by law as divorcing heterosexual couples. Because of this, the issues are much the same as they always have been in divorce:
- Property and debt division: Dividing your assets and debts is a crucial part of the divorce process. Florida is an equitable division of property state. Equitable does not mean equal, so deciding which spouse is entitled to which of the marital properties can be difficult.
- Child custody and support: Issues related to children are often the most contentious.
- Spousal maintenance: The amount and duration of spousal maintenance can vary widely.
Same-sex divorce issues
Other issues may arise with a same-sex divorce:
- Child custody: These arrangements can be more complicated. One parent might be the biological parent with no second-parent or stepparent adoption having taken place. In this case, the court will likely grant custody to the biological parent. However, it will be the same as heterosexual couples if the second parent has adopted the child or if both parents adopted the child.
- Pet custody: In many instances, pets have replaced children in same-sex marriages. When the relationship dissolves, an important issue may be deciding who gets the family pet. Under current Florida law, pets are considered the same as any other property and subject to equitable distribution. Typically, this means the pet goes with one spouse or the other. You may wish to write up a shared pet parenting agreement if you prefer that your pitbull, Armando, gets equal time with the both of you.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine the best path to divorce based on your unique situation. No matter whether it’s a contested, uncontested, mediated or collaborative divorce, your attorney can help protect your rights and your future.