Financial Issues Concerning Same Sex Couples and Divorce
Going through a divorce is a traumatic time. In addition to whatever fears or uncertainties you may be feeling over the future, the process of unraveling the life you built together is often complicated and painful. For same sex couples filing for divorce, the process can be even more difficult and confusing, as Florida’s marriage equality laws have only recently caught up to other parts of the country. If you are in a same sex marriage and are contemplating a divorce, the following outlines pertinent laws you need to be aware of, as well as some potential issues you could end up facing.
Florida Divorce Laws
In the Sunshine State, divorce is formally referred to as the ‘Dissolution of Marriage’, listed under Chapter 61 of the Florida State Statutes. Whereas some states grant divorces on fault grounds, such as adultery, habitual drunkenness, or domestic abuse, Florida is a ‘no fault’ divorce state, with the only grounds being the irreconcilable differences of the parties or the mental incapacity of one of the spouses. Marital property is divided in a way that seeks to be equitable to both parties, and alimony may be awarded based on factors which include the length of the marriage, the earnings of each person, and their contributions to the marriage.
While these laws are straightforward, problems arise for couples who have only recently been granted the legal right to be marry in the state. According to Marriage Equality USA, Florida is one of 15 states in which same sex marriage became legal under U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 2015, whereas in some states, such as Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa, same sex marriage has been legal since as early as 2008. That means these couples have some history in establishing themselves and in acquiring property and assets together, while same sex couples in Florida have been forced to use alternative methods of property ownership, creating issues in divorce proceedings.
Financial Issues In Florida Same Sex Divorces
According to a 2015 Orlando Sentinel report on same sex marriage laws, thousands of people got married in the months after the new laws were enacted, while marriage among same sex partners throughout the area is generally up by more than 30 percent. While finally given the right to legally wed, many of these couples had been in loving and committed relationships for years. This raises two important issues in same sex divorces:
- Marital property: Under Florida law, marital property is only that which was purchased, received, or otherwise accumulated during the marriage. For same sex couples, this would not accurately reflect the homes, cars, furniture, and other property they likely purchased together, but have titled in only one partner or another’s name.
- Alimony: Alimony is based on several factors, not the least of which is the length of the marriage. As a result, situations involving couples who were only permitted to legally marry in 2015 do not fall under standard procedures.
We Can Help You Today
If you are in a same sex marriage and contemplating a divorce or separation, contact Hancock & Associates, P.A. today. Our Florida divorce attorney can help protect your rights in divorce proceedings, while assisting you in getting the fair and equitable divorce settlement you deserve. We have offices in Orlando and Tampa; call or contact our office online to set up a meeting with one of our attorneys. Same day consultations are available.