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Annapolis Divorce Law Blog

Same-sex divorce outside of a same-sex marriage state

As the issue of same-sex marriage bans move to federal appeals courts and the prospect of another U.S. Supreme Court ruling looms, the reality for many couples who married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, such as Maryland, but now live in a state, like Virginia, that does not, is anything but clear. If their relationship fails, and they desire to obtain a divorce, there may not be any easy answers.

Some same-sex marriage recognition states have what are known as "long-arm" statutes, that permit courts in a state to obtain jurisdiction over persons who no longer live there. For couples married in those states, but who have moved away and later need to divorce, may be able to use those statutes to obtain a divorce.

Is a conscious uncoupling right for your divorce?

For many observers, the announcement by Gwyneth Paltrow regarding her separation from husband Chris Martin was cause for derision. She described the separation as "conscious uncoupling" and suggested it was a form of spiritual growth. As opposed to a legal proceeding used to separate the financial affairs and create child custody arrangements that most people who enter a divorce must undergo.

As pretentious as it sounded, the suggestion that there may be some merit in looking at divorce as a progression in two individuals lives, at least has the potential of allowing a change in circumstance that is not accompanied with acrimony and nastiness that appears in so many divorces.

The unsettled waters of same-sex marriage to stay unsettled

At least for the next year. After a series of victories for same-sex couples in federal district courts in various states, the appeals from those decisions are heading to their respective federal appeals courts. This suggests that the issue may return to the U.S. Supreme Court by next term.

The Court may have believed it had judiciously sidestepped many of the politically inflammatory elements of the issue last summer, and would have a term or two before it was faced with another case. However, decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Utah, where federal courts found state statutes in part or in whole unconstitutional, as they affected the right of same-sex couples to marry. 

Know when to ask for professional advice

The members of the branches of the U.S. military are proud of their work and consider themselves professionals. They are highly trained and employed in the service of their country to perform tasks no other organization is capable of performing. The years of specialized training pay off when an emergency or deployment occurs, and a mission is successfully completed.

When it comes to divorce in civilian life, many people consult with a divorce attorney, whose training allows them to provide the advice on planning and executing a divorce. 

Cohabitation statistics make more sense now

A great deal of time and research has been devoted to the question of why people divorce. Social scientists have engaged in many studies in an attempt to divine what causes relationships to fail, with the hope perhaps developing methods of combating the high divorce rate in this country.

For many years, researchers have been puzzled by the apparent correlation between cohabitation prior to marriage and its effect on divorce. Some data indicated that cohabitation led to a greater chance of divorce. The cohabitation rate in the U.S. has increased dramatically in the last 50 years, and during this time, some divorce rates have actually fallen.

Complex relationships equal complex child custody agreements

Child custody issues, such as allocation of time children spend with parents can grow to become quite complex. When parents have children from more than one marriage or relationship the problem of attempting to sort out all of the best interests of the children to match a child custody schedule that works with the parents' lives can get out of hand.

Add to this technical complexity the emotional overlay of offenses, real and imagined among all those parents, and the situation can be challenging on many different levels. If only there were a neat way of pouring in all of the data into box, turning a crank handle a few times, and having an optimal solution appear. 

Divorce becomes more likely for those age 50 and older

One of the more noticeable trends in divorce in the U.S. is the increase among those age 50 and older. The remarkable number is the doubling of the rate of divorce since 1990 for those in that age group. The baby boomers are different from their parents, and many are finding they do not want to stay married as they age.

This means some concerns will change. Questions of child custody and child support will be less pronounced, as children, if there are any, will be teen-agers, or older. A custody arrangement will only have to function for a few years, and in some cases, the children may be old enough to drive themselves to their parent's respective home.

Is it child custody before there is a child?

A child custody case can have a great many twists and turns, with sometimes unexpected results. We all have heard of cases involving parents, who after a divorce, find a job or other reason to move out of the state where they lived when they were married. Child custody cases can become complex as the court has to work through the effect of the move on the custody agreement and the best interests of the child.

These are complex decisions, because, in essence, all parties may have very good reasons for moving, remaining, wanting to bring the child along with the parent or having the child remain with the non-moving parent. Woe to the family court judge (or their clerks) who may believe this to be an easy question quickly answered.

Justice Scalia's same-sex marriage roadmap

An interesting discussion points out how Justice Scalia has correctly predicted the progression of the court cases involving the rights of homosexuals and same-sex couples in the U.S. A federal district judge in Kentucky has ruled that the state law prohibiting the recognition of valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

As we have discussed before, when married same-sex couples moves into a jurisdiction like Kentucky, problems ensue. While in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Windsor decision, they are treated as married for federal purposes, but when state law is at question, they are considered no longer married. 

The children will know

Not too long ago, a television game show posed the question, "Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?" When it comes to divorce, many parents think the answer is yes, in that they believe that they can fool their children that their marriage is not over. A husband and wife will recognize, sometimes explicitly and sometimes not, that they no longer love each other, and it is time for them to go their separate ways.

But then they consider the children. A great deal of research suggests that divorce can harm children, and that a stable, two-parent household seems have the best chance of developing well-adjusted, happy children. Unfortunately, many people read that last sentence, and ignore the word "stable."

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