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Ruling protects same-sex couples who marry and later divorce

In 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal across the nation. Although resident of Washington had the right to same-sex marriage for several years prior, the decision is still a landmark one that allowed many individuals to finally marry the one they love. There are both legal advantages to same-sex marriage particularly when it comes to divorce, as well as some reasons why a same-sex couple may choose not to marry.

Let's start with the advantages. If a same-sex couple gets married and has a child, should they later divorce, both partners can pursue their right to either custody of or visitation with their child. Moreover, should one partner die while the child is a minor, the surviving partner will automatically be deemed the child's legal parent. Also, spousal support may be available to same sex couples who get married and later divorce.

Moreover, there are property rights that come along with same-sex marriage. When a couple, either same-sex or opposite-sex, marries, it is generally presumed that assets obtained during the course of the marriage belong to both spouses. Some same-sex couples will see this as a benefit, but others may decide that they will not marry in order to keep their property from becoming marital.

That being said, as already alluded to, property division can become contentious during a divorce. Some couples don't want to go through the legal hurdles that come with dividing property in a divorce. If they are not married and the relationship does not last, like opposite-sex couples, they generally leave with what they came with and what is under their name. And some same-sex couples, like some opposite-sex couples, simply do not want to go through the formality of marriage.

Deciding whether or not to marry is a big decision, and no two couple's situations are the same. However, there are benefits to being married that are now available to all couples. And should a married same-sex couple later decide to divorce, they have the same rights as opposite-sex couples do in these situations.

Source: FindLaw, "Same-Sex Marriage Legal Pros and Cons," accessed May 2, 2016

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