What is Same Sex Divorce in Georgia?
One would think that same-sex divorces are legally synonymous with heterosexual divorces, and while there are consistencies in both, complications and complexities are still very prevalent. Child custody and asset distribution are prime examples of what make the two unique. We receive frequent questions regarding same-sex divorce, as there is often confusion about what state-to-state legal abides by. We encourage you to read for more information, understand the legal parameters for your unique situation, and hire an experienced attorney.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Georgia, we are receiving many questions about same-sex divorce. Some people fear that because the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling did not mention divorce, Georgia might prevent or challenge same-sex divorces.
Issues in Georgia Same-Sex Divorce
The Supreme Court ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage across the country in 2015. Prior to the ruling, same-sex couples often entered civil unions in which they shared homes, belongings, businesses, and bank accounts. While the law treats these couples the same as any other in seeking a divorce, property division is often more complex. Under the Georgia divorce statutes, marital property is subject to the rules of equitable distribution. This requires any homes, cars, furnishings, and financial assets that were earned or acquired during the marriage to be divided on a fair but not necessarily even basis.
As same-sex married couples likely have significant joint holdings from their time together, additional negotiations are required to address premarital property and ownership issues. Here are the key points you need to know about same-sex divorce in Georgia.
Same-Sex Divorce & Children
Previously, Georgia law prevented courts from giving out same-sex divorces. Today, that law is obsolete and no longer applies. Georgia same-sex marriage is legal—and so is same-sex divorce.
Length of Same-Sex Marriages
Georgia may not recognize the full length of your relationship if you were married in another state, under a domestic partnership, or cohabiting for many years. This means your case may be hurt with issues like alimony.
Division of Assets & Support
Depending on where you live, courts may struggle to decide who gets what between two men or they may have a bias toward a biological mother in a lesbian couple.
Same-Sex Divorce & Child Custody
With kids involved, a judge or court not experienced with same-sex divorce cases may make irrational decisions based on cultural bias rather than remaining objective. For example, biological parents may be automatically favored because the idea of a biological mother makes the most sense to a judge. Overall, having an experienced same-sex divorce attorney in Georgia is essential to helping you anticipate obstacles of child custody that may specifically plague same-sex couples.
In the long term, the Georgia legal system will eventually become acquainted with same-sex divorce, acquire more experience and precedents in handling such cases, and arrive at a point when the differences between opposite-sex and same-sex divorce cases are barely seen. For now, absolutely make sure you’ve got an experienced attorney on your side.
If you have questions about your rights or how the new law affects your situation, please contact one of our experienced attorneys at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor.
Limitations and Rights In A Domestic Partnership
Prior to the 2015 federal ruling upholding same-sex marriage rights in the 50 states, a domestic partnership was often the best way for those in a same-sex relationship to obtain similar protections available by law to married couples. These protections include the right to list your partner on your healthcare benefits, to designate them as your healthcare decider, and to be granted visitation in the event one of you is incarcerated. These protections do not, however, include the right to file a joint tax return.
In Georgia, the Human Rights Campaign advises that domestic partnership agreements are available in the following jurisdictions:
Domestic partnerships are open to all couples who are residents or in which one party is employed by the city.
Domestic partnerships are available to same-sex couples only who are residents of or are employed by the county.
Domestic partnerships are open to all couples who are residents of the Atlanta area.