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The gray area of gay marriage: same-sex divorce

Same-sex marriage is a hotly-debated topic throughout the U.S. including Washington. Lawmakers, organizations and politicians sometimes argue about the rights of same-sex couples to marry legally in their respective states. There are now 17 states that recognized same-sex marriages, and since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last year, many gay partners are now entitled to federal benefits and health care coverage under Obamacare.

However, there is a gray area that has become a challenge for many same-sex couples nowadays. What comes with recognizing same-sex marriage is also the possibility of filing for divorce when the relationship ends. Divorce can make people vulnerable to emotional stress and financial drain. But over the years, divorce laws have created ways to protect both parties and let them start over following the divorce. For example, the marital assets are divided between each party through property division. Child support or alimony guidelines are established to determine the amount one party will pay every month.

Same-sex divorce is not that different from heterosexual divorce. However, same-sex divorce may face a lot of controversy and scrutiny. Same-sex couples who marry in a state that recognizes gay marriage can dissolve their marital relationship without too many conflicts. The problem may arise, however, if the gay couple lives in a state that prohibits same-sex marriage. In such a case, it could be difficult for the couple to dissolve their marriage, because the state does not recognize it in the first place. This affects the parties' rights to alimony, child support and visitation if a child is involved.

Same-sex couples in Gig Harbor, Washington are lucky because the state has recognized gay marriage since February 8, 2012. However, this does not mean that filing for divorce is as easy as it may seem. That said, the guidance and knowledge of a legal professional can help navigate the troublesome divorce waters.

Source: Huffingtonpost, "The Right to Gay Marriage," Lara Lillibridge, April 9, 2014

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