The unique challenges of same-sex divorce beyond Colorado

Although Colorado and most U.S. states allow same-sex marriage, there are unique challenges these couples must face when seeking divorce.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 33 states, including Colorado after an October U.S. appellate court decision. Progress has been tremendous on this issue of equality over the past several years, although with the more widespread ability for LGBTQ partners to wed comes one complication: the issue of same-sex divorce.

According to CNBC, this is because there are still at least 17 states that do not recognize same-sex marriages, and thus also do not allow for couples married in another state to get a divorce. In other words, it is impossible to dissolve a marriage that doesn't exist, at least not according to state law. Additionally, some states that allow same-sex marriage have burdensome requirements if those couples later wish to seek a divorce.

This has created a difficult situation for couples across the U.S., especially those who wish to move to a different state that currently prohibits same-sex marriage. Same-sex partners who wed in Colorado and then move to nearby Missouri, for example, will find it impossible to get divorced unless they establish residency back in Colorado or another state that recognizes their marriage, something that can take up to a year to do. As one can imagine, career, family and other obligations can make relocating an impossible option.

So far, divorce rates for same-sex couples are only about half that of heterosexual couples, as a Williams Institute study recently found. But as more couples across the country are allowed to wed thanks to recent court rulings and ballot measures, same-sex marriage rates will continue to rise. With it, so too will the number of these couples wishing to someday dissolve their marriages.

Special circumstances of same-sex divorce

Another unique challenge divorcing same-sex couples face is finding resolutions when it comes to the division of shared property and assets. Most states, including Colorado, did not allow same-sex marriage until quite recently, and thus many same-sex couples have lived together for many years before getting legally married. This creates complexities associated with which property is owned independently versus jointly, as both partners may have contributed financially to large purchases like homes and motor vehicles.

For couples in this situation, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help clarify who owns which property and assets in case of a divorce in the future.

If you are in a same-sex marriage and wish to explore your options for divorce, it is important to know your rights and the special circumstances associated with the dissolution of same-sex marriages. For further information and guidance on this complex issue, contact an experienced Denver divorce attorney.

Keywords: same-sex, marriage, divorce