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Same-sex couples and divorce

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2016 | Same-Sex Couples & Divorce |

The Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that made same-sex marriages legal in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States provided same-sex couples with the same rights, benefits and protections as heterosexual couples. The ruling, in general, has provided peace of mind to many same-sex couples because they have been able to enjoy benefits such as lower living expenses and inheriting their deceased spouse’s estate, pension and 401k balances as well as being able to claim Social Security benefits. However, it also brought up certain issues that same-sex couples had not encountered before.

After the ruling was implemented, some same-sex couples were surprised to find that they would pay higher taxes for filing jointly as a married couple. Others had also not expected that they would not receive a tax refund whether they filed jointly or separately after marriage. Once couples were allowed to combine their income after marriage, they also faced the risk of being put into a higher tax bracket.

The implications were also present in relation to same-sex couples and divorce. Because many same-sex couples had been living together for many years and had accommodated their financial situation to suit their needs, they had not expected the complications that could arise if they decided to divorce, particularly if the couple had accumulated significant financial assets. Experts recommend that same-sex couples consider drafting prenuptial agreements together before marriage as a way to have better control over division of assets, child support payments and custody if the marriage ends in divorce.

While planning for divorce might seem to focus on the negatives, same-sex couples who are considering marriage might benefit from the guidance of a family law attorney who can provide assistance in drafting pre-nuptial agreements. This might help the couple foresee any issues that might arise later in the marriage and therefore not be surprised by the outcome.