Same-sex couples in New Jersey have the right to get married, and that means that they may eventually also need to file for divorce. Unfortunately, given that same-sex marriages are relatively new, same-sex divorces can be a bit more challenging to complete than standard heterosexual divorces.
Although many areas of same-sex marriages and divorces are similar, there are a few differences that can complicate your divorce proceedings. What are the two main concerns that can make it more challenging to end a same-sex marriage than a heterosexual one in New Jersey?
Property division may not be straightforward
Same-sex couples may have had a relationship long before the state allowed them to get married. The reason this causes complications is that there are many couples who get married who lived as committed couples before the state recognize their relationship.
If you were in a committed relationship for years before you could lawfully marry, there may be a lot of gray areas when it comes to property division matters. You may need to build a case to show that you treated one another as spouses prior to your legal marriage if you want to claim assets or income accumulated during those years before the government recognize the validity of your relationship.
Custody matters become complicated quickly
It is normal for only one parent in a same-sex couple to have a direct biological relationship with the children they share. Sometimes, one parent will have completed an adoption, although both spouses will act as parents to the children.
The parent who technically does not have a legal or biological relationship to the child may have a difficult time asserting their rights if they want to continue to act as a parent. Thankfully, New Jersey does recognize third-party custody rights, which means that if you can show your relationship is in the best interest of the children, a judge may agree to give you parenting rights even though you are not technically a parent in the eyes of the state.
Matters of support can also become more complicated because of the delayed recognition of your relationship or the non-traditional way that you added children to your family. Recognizing the unique challenges inherent in same-sex divorces will help you prepare for your day in court.