Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Same-sex couples still face obstacles in divorce court

Without a doubt, 2015 was an important year for the LGBT community. Gaining the legal recognition of same-sex relationships through marriage opened up a world of benefits that were previously only available to heterosexual couples. That was the good news. The bad news is that now that same-sex couples can marry, they may also need to divorce.

The victory of being able to marry becomes more complex when it comes to divorce. Same-sex couples who want to end their marriages still face obstacles that heterosexual couples do not. For instance, prior to the 2015 ruling, a couple may have been together for several years, but the official date of the relationship is on the marriage certificate.

What date does the court say your relationship started?

Many same-sex couples encounter this hurdle when they divorce. The legal date of the relationship could affect issues such as property division and spousal support. Courts here in Illinois and across the country have wide discretion when it comes to determining the date to consider when it comes to dividing assets. This could make a difference in how much of a retirement plan is considered marital property and how much alimony an individual could receive.

What happens with child custody?

Then there are the issues associated with child custody since there may only be one biological or adoptive parent. If the other parent failed to make the parent-child relationship legal, it will more than likely create more challenges when it comes to child custody and visitation.

Should you rely on the courts to dissolve your marriage?

As you can see, you face numerous obstacles if you decide to let the court resolve your divorce issues. It may be a better idea to stay out of court. Even when you and your future ex-spouse don't quite see eye-to-eye, you could benefit from mediation or collaborative divorce. Each of you may still want to understand your legal rights and options by making use of the available legal resources.

The two of you can decide for yourselves what the legal start date of your relationship is and continue your negotiations based on that date. Of course, the longer that date is, the better it is for the lower income spouse. The higher earning spouse may want to shorten the date. For instance, if you were together for 10 years prior to getting married in 2015, you could decide that for property division purposes, your relationship began somewhere between 13 and 3 years ago.

When it comes to child custody, the two of you can create a parenting plan that provides both of you with the opportunity to continue to love and raise the children. After all, even though the two of you will no longer be together, the children may not know any other parent, and taking that person away may be detrimental to the children. Like most other parents, you may decide to work together in order to keep the children's best interests in mind.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
104 South Charles Street
Belleville, IL 62220

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