It’s a brave new world out there. Gay marriage has officially been legalized in every state in our country, including Louisiana, thanks to the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision.
The LGBTQ community in New Orleans in particular was more affected than many other cities. Even though gay marriage was not recognized by the state until the federal Obergefell ruling, New Orleans has a strong and prominent gay community. New Orleans comes in at one of the top ten gay-friendly cities in the United States according to TIME magazine and claims the world’s oldest currently-operating gay bar, Café Lafitte in Exile.
The legalization of same-sex marriage is a long-awaited validation for many long-standing relationships between gay couples in New Orleans. The recent sanctioning of gay marriage, however, can be a serious legal curveball if those marriages end in divorce.
So how is a same-sex divorce different? Is it different at all? As much as we wish we could definitively say that gay divorces will go exactly the same way as all other divorces, and as much as they should, in reality they sometimes don’t. There are certain special circumstances that arise that can cause a divorce case to splinter off into relatively uncharted territory.
Possible complications in a same-sex divorce:
- If – and how - you were married before the Obergefell ruling in 2015. if you were married in another state or country where your marriage was recognized, that is a consideration. You might have had a civil union, you might have had a ceremony without an actual marriage license, or you might have simply cohabitated before the Obergefell ruling. All of these variants should be considered by the court when you get divorced.
- If you had a child or children together. Delicate, but important complications arise here. The child may not be a biological descendant of either of you, but instead adopted. The child may be a biological descendant of one parent, but raised by both for part of or all of their lives. The court generally seeks to uphold the best interest of the child, and as such, should consider who actually raised them in spite of the limitations gay couples had before Obergefell. But since no family is one-size-fits-all, unfortunately this may cause a custody situation to become a bit complicated.
- If – and where – you owned property together. Of course, there are endless possibilities here that, again, are a bit unprecedented in divorce law in Louisiana. For example, you might have gotten married in Europe before it was legal here, owned a house there, and then moved to Louisiana once gay marriage was legally sanctioned and purchased a house here as well. Issues of community property splits in situations like this can, clearly, get a bit sticky.
What we know for sure: you have the legal right to get divorced in Louisiana if you live here. Regardless of what state you were married in, if Louisiana is your residential state, you may now get divorced in Louisiana. Whether your divorce is a simple with none of the complications listed above, or with gray areas that need to be worked out, chances are you need help making sense of your own, individual legal situation. Getting a good legal consultation with an experienced divorce attorney is worth its weight in gold as far as getting that comprehension and direction that you need in your divorce.