Same-Sex Divorce & It’s Unique Challenges

February 3, 2020 in PeacefulSplit® Mediation

Regardless Of Your Sexual Orientation, Divorce Is Still Divorce

Many same-sex couples were ecstatic in 2015 when it became legal to marry in Florida. Just a few days after that historic day, the Tampa Bay Times published an article that chronicled the experiences of a woman who was jubilant for a completely different reason: Florida would also have to allow same-sex couples to divorce.

“It was a very liberating moment,” the woman told the newspaper. “All of the angst, frustration and anxiety that was just under the surface was finally released.” In this article, I explore some common questions and issues about same-sex couples and divorce in Florida.

How Many Same-Sex Couples Are There In The U.S.?

Census information from the Williams Institute tells us there are nearly 50,000 same-sex couples in Florida, the third highest rate in the U.S. behind New York and California. While 51% of such couples in the United States are female, women make up approximately 64% of gay marriages in the U.S. According to data from the U.S. Census, married same-sex couples made up about 59.4% of all same-sex households in 2017 — a rate that has more than doubled over the past 10 years. In 2008, 26.6% of all same-sex households were married couples.  There are approximately 114,000 same-sex couples raising children in the U.S.

Same-Sex Marriages Are Growing - As Are Divorces!

Are Same-Sex Couples More Likely Than Straight Couples To Divorce?

Current research and data reveals the exact opposite. A study published by the Williams Institute reveals that same-sex couples divorce at a slightly lower rate than their heterosexual peers. The research confirmed that, on average, same-sex couples divorce at a rate of about 1.1% — compared to the 2% annual divorce rate between heterosexual couples.  Research has indicated that gay couples account for 44% of same-sex marriages but make up only 26% divorces. According to that research, about 74% of same-sex divorces were lesbian (female) marriages.

Same-Sex Couples Divorce At Lower Rates Than Heterosexual Couples!

Is Same-Sex Divorce Different In Florida?

Many issues common with heterosexual couple divorces are found in same-sex separations. For example, division of assets and property, alimony, child support, parental responsibility, etc. Just as with heterosexual couple divorces, there are two types of same-sex divorces: settled and contested.

As a licensed attorney with 25+ years experience and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, I firmly believe that divorce mediation can be a big help in assisting both same-sex and heterosexual couples obtain a peaceful and amicable settled divorce marked by open communication and agreement.

A big challenge for same-sex couples facing divorce, however, revolves around any children they have together. If both partners adopted a child during their marriage, they will both enjoy the same parental rights as heterosexual partners. This includes custody and child support arrangements based upon “the best interests of the child.” This is the same standard applicable to heterosexual divorces.

If a sperm donor or surrogate was used to have children, the Court will generally not view one of the partners as a biological parent. This is especially true if that partner did not choose to adopt the child.

Regardless Of Your Sexual Orientation – Divorce Is Divorce!

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