Same-sex couples now have the right to marry in all 50 states after the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. However, just as marriage has become nationally legal, the question of how same-sex divorces will be handled has come up. Pennsylvania same-sex couples who are considering a divorce might be met with some challenges specific to their situations that might not be issues that come up in heterosexual divorces.
While the division of property during the dissolution of a same-sex marriage will probably be handled similarly to the division during a traditional divorce, various lawyers predict that the strongest challenges will be related to custody issues. Because the children of same-sex couples have a biological relationship to, at most, only one member of the couple, and often there are questions of adoption and sperm donors involved, challenges about who should have custody might arise.
While a 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act opened the door to same-sex couples being entitled to certain federal benefits that were previously unavailable, the results have been slow. The June 2015 ruling guarantees that same-sex couples will also be offered the same state benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. This means, though, that courts handling same-sex divorces will find themselves in uncharted territory and will need time to adjust.
Many lawyers believe that it might take some time for the courts to have to address the issues brought up by the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. Courts will have to adjust quickly, however, since the rate of dissolution of same-sex marriages is about the same as that of traditional marriages, according to information provided by a group that focuses on gender identity law, sexual orientation and public policy. A person who is in a same-sex marriage and who is contemplating a divorce may want to speak with a family law attorney to see how some of these issues can be handled.