Same-Sex Divorce: Challenges Regarding Asset Division

Dividing assets can be difficult for any divorcing couple, but same-sex couples face unique challenges. Asset division can be particularly tricky if marriage or civil unions were not recognized in the couple’s state of residency at the time they were married. Those with prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements find the process far easier.

Ultimately, the goal is for same-sex divorce to resemble heterosexual divorce. Much progress has been made in recent years, but same-sex couples seeking divorce still experience significant challenges. Asset division is especially complicated for those who lived together for several years but were only married for a short time.

For now, couples must take extra steps to ensure that asset division is carried out in a fair and equitable manner. This means working with an attorney with a clear understanding of the complexities of same-sex divorce.

Whether or not you prepared for the prospect of divorce, you and your ex may come face-to-face with the following asset division challenges:


Select states seek to ‘nullify’ the federal same-sex decision by simply not recognizing same-sex marriage. In these states, seeking a divorce may also be a struggle and couples may have to deal with lengthy lawsuits in the interest of properly dividing assets. However, because some states are more lenient in granting divorces to those lacking residency history, it is possible for same-sex couples in nullified states to pursue divorce out of state.

Civil Unions

If your relationship is not defined by marriage, but rather through a civil union, you may not enjoy many of the protections now bestowed at the federal level. In order to legally separate (and divide your assets accordingly), you or your spouse may need to establish residency. Thankfully, residency requirements are minimal in certain states and territories, including Washington, D.C.

Finding Legal Counsel Specific to Same-Sex Couples

Many attorneys who are otherwise well-versed in property division have little experience with same-sex couples. Unfortunately, advice that applies to heterosexual couples may not always be favorable for same-sex spouses. The search for an attorney who fully understands the legal complications of same-sex divorce can be exhaustive, but it is ultimately worthwhile.

As states continue to grapple with the legal aspects of same-sex marriage, local rules and regulations regarding divorce are bound to change. It is therefore imperative that same-sex spouses keep abreast of these changes, as local laws may determine not only how property is divided but also whether spouses are able to seek divorce in the first place.

All couples deserve compassionate legal support as they undertake the divorce process in Washington, D.C.Look to DiPietro Family Law for the kindhearted counsel you require.

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