Issues to Consider in an LGBTQ Divorce
By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC
While same-sex divorces have more in common with opposite-sex divorces than differences, there are also important distinctions concerning same-sex relationships and divorces that LGBTQ couples considering divorce in Chicago should know about. A recent Business Insider article discusses LGBTQ divorces with legal scholar Adam P. Romero, who recently edited a book on LGBTQ divorce, alongside psychology professor Abbie Goldberg, published with Oxford University Press. We want to take a look at a recent interview with Romero and Goldberg, which highlights some common factors and other issues to consider in an LGBTQ divorce.
Research is Lacking on LGBTQ Divorces
The first thing to know about LGBTQ divorces is they are researched far less often than opposite-sex divorces. As such, divorce researchers do not have the kind of data they would ideally like to have in order to understand factors influencing LGBTQ marriages and divorces. As Romero explains, over time, there is an assumption that more family law experts will study LGBTQ divorces in various regions of the U.S., and that we will have more information to use in drawing conclusions. However, in the meantime, researchers must rely on the limited data available. This lack of information is part of the reason Goldberg and Romero put together their edited volume. As they explain, “our book brings together a wide variety of experts from different disciplines” including “law, psychology, sociology, political science” and other fields.
Specific Factors Affecting LGBTQ Marriages and Decisions to Divorce
As Romero explains, much of the existing research “suggests that many of the same factors that create instability and strife in straight relationships, such as financial stress, also affect LGBTQ relationships.” Yet spouses in same-sex marriages ultimately deal with different types of issues, as well, that can result in divorce. Most notably, Romero suggests, spouses in same-sex marriages often experience “minority stressors,” which can affect their marriages, like discrimination in the workplace or strained relationships with extended family members. Experiencing discrimination at work and in other places can lead to problems at home and early research suggests it may play a role in some same-sex divorces. At the same time, however, Romero underscores we need more data.
Legal Issues Specific to Same-Sex Couples Who Get Divorced
Although the law requires same-sex couples to be treated the same as way opposite-sex couples who get divorced, Romero and Goldberg indicate the law is sometimes “incompatible” with the way a same-sex marriage is arranged. In other words, spouses in same-sex marriages may not have family situations that are those imagined by the law, and as such, the divorce process may be more difficult. More significant is the issue of the length of the marriage. For example, under Illinois law, the length of the marriage can affect the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. Yet many same-sex couples have been in committed relationships for decades and only married for a short time due to shifts in state and federal law which allows same-sex marriage.
Matters of parentage and parental responsibilities in a same-sex divorce can also get complicated when the same-sex couple has minor children from the marriage.
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