After years of waiting, Arizona’s same-sex couples finally won the right to marry in October 2014. That meant you could at last enjoy the many legal benefits linked to marriages. And while Arizona doesn’t have a separate set of laws for same-sex divorces, your divorce may still not proceed like a straight couple’s would.
Depending on your circumstances, your divorce may run into some serious challenges, and you’ll want an attorney who understands and supports your needs.
Five things to consider in same-sex divorce
Arizona’s same-sex marriages may have only become legal in October 2014, but LGBTQ couples did not wait until then to start living together. This means that many of Arizona’s same-sex marriages are far younger on paper than in practice:
This matters in several ways, including:
- You may have previously registered as domestic partners. If so, you may need to dissolve both your marriage and your domestic partnership.
- Arizona is a community property state. This means that all marital property is supposed to be split fifty-fifty. But what does “marital property” mean if you were in a committed, monogamous relationship significantly longer than you were legally married?
- The duration of your relationship may also impact any spousal support. Unless you can compel the courts to think differently, alimony awards consider the length of your marriage, not your whole relationship.
These aren’t the only ways that same-sex divorces can be more complicated than straight ones. You may also run into added challenges as a parent or simply while you’re looking for an attorney:
- Non-biological parents may need to establish parental rights. The fact you raised your child for years may not be enough to earn you custody rights.
- Arizona’s religious exemption laws allow attorneys to refuse to “provide or participate in providing” anything they feel violates their religious beliefs.
Although Arizona legalized same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court ruled that marriage was a fundamental right, it only did so after voting to ban same-sex marriages in 2008. The times have changed, but some lawyers might not have. You want to make sure you work with someone who can listen, sympathize and represent you enthusiastically—in all your concerns.
You deserve quality representation
You have all the same doubts, anxieties and ambitions as anyone headed for divorce. Your sexual orientation doesn’t change your humanity. It doesn’t change the fact that your divorce will lay the foundation for your future.
That’s why you want someone who understands your challenges. Someone who will listen and work in your best interest. Someone who has advocated for LGBTQ couples for years. Same-sex divorces aren’t yet the same as straight divorces, and an attorney who says otherwise may not serve you well.