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In 2015, the United States of America took a big step forward in terms of human rights: our country finally legalized same-sex marriage across all fifty states. Though we may feel this magnanimous victory came far too late, we gleefully celebrate the human rights victory so many couples have been waiting for. However, much like heterosexual couples, some same-sex couples have realized that they might be better off apart. Unfortunately, they realized this after the wedding. This brings up an important question for many people across the country: is there a difference between same-sex divorces and heterosexual divorces?

Alimony

In heterosexual marriages, a lot of people are quick to assume that the wife is going to get some sort of alimony. This, however, isn’t always the case. Alimony is based on a lot of factors but, for the most part, it’s based on the amount of money each spouse makes and the needs of each spouse. If both parties make a similar income, or the lower-earning party doesn’t need alimony to maintain their current standard of living, it’s possible that neither party gets alimony. In 2022, it’s becoming increasingly common for women to pay alimony. In same-sex divorces, the aforementioned still applies; alimony doesn’t care about your gender or your sexual orientation.

Child Support

Like alimony, child support in same-sex divorce is very similar to child support in heterosexual marriages. Assuming you and your ex are both legal guardians of the child, child support will be calculated the same way it would be in a heterosexual marriage. Child support is based on income and physical custody. If you’re curious about how much child support you might pay, ORS has an online calculator to help you estimate your monthly child support payments. Usually, the higher-earning spouse pays child support in order to ensure the child—or children—is able to live a life similar to that which they lived prior to the divorce. Even if you share 50/50 physical custody, you may still have to pay child support, so make sure you consider that in your post-divorce budget.

Custody

Custody battles in same-sex marriages, assuming you’re both legal guardians of the child, are the same as the custody battles in heterosexual marriages. However, if your ex has a childbiological or adoptedfrom a previous relationship, and you are not the child’s legal guardian, you might not have the same rights involving custody of your ex’s children. For example, when couples of blended families divorce, step-parents usually don’t have the right to be involved in their step-children’s lives if they divorce. The most common exception to this happens when the step-child’s biological parent relinquishes their rights, allowing the step-parent to adopt the child. A lot of people believe that courts always side with the mother when arranging custody but custody orders are based on the best interests of the child. The court considers several factors when determining what kinds of custody arrangements are in the best interest of the child. Their goal is to create an order that will provide stability and structure for the children. The courts have historically placed greater emphasis on the primary caregiver when determining custody awards. This has historically been the mother in most heterosexual marriages. Utah laws regarding custody do not specifically identify a gender preference. Both parents have the same right to seek the custody and parent-time arrangements they feel are the in the best interest of their child regardless of gender or sexual orienation.

High-Conflict Divorces

You may have noticed that there’s no real difference between same-sex divorces and heterosexual divorces. Your sexual orientation is not likely to have an impact on your divorce. One thing everyone should be aware of is high-conflict divorces. The difference between a cheap, fast divorce and a long, expensive divorce has a lot to do with how much conflict there is. High conflict divorces typically take much longer than amicable divorces. And, since couples in high conflict divorces are more likely to need courts to decide on issues such as custody, or division of assets, the legal fees usually add up to a larger number. Anyone can have a high-conflict divorce. High-conflict divorces don’t have anything to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation. If you are concerned you may have a high-conflict divorce, you may need to figure out how to be more willing to compromise, or budget for additional legal expenses.

CoilLaw Supports Happiness for All

A lot of people assume that, since we’re a family law firm, we’re pro-divorce. However, that’s not entirely true. At CoilLaw, we support everyone’s right to be happy. At our firm, it doesn’t matter what your gender identity or sexual orientation is: we support your right to be happy whether you stay married or go through with the divorce. If you’re still unsure of whether or not divorce is right for you, check out Jill’s book, No One Dies from Divorce. This book is all about providing everyone with the resources they need to survive and thrive after divorce. If you’re considering divorce, don’t hesitate to call for your consultation today.

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