Same-Sex Divorce: Everything You Need to Know

In 2015, the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states, allowing all couples to officially tie the knot. However, not all spouses get their happily ever after and eventually decide to end their relationships. The gay divorce rates are rather high in the country.

To finalize their same-sex divorce, LGBTQ+ couples, just like heterosexual ones, must fulfill several steps, such as searching for forms and preparing them, filing documents with the court, completing the waiting period, etc.

What are the basic steps of LGBTQ+ divorce in Texas? Is there any difference between LGBT divorce and heterosexual marriage dissolution? If you’ve made a decision to end your marriage, you’ll find important information about gay divorce in this article.

When It’s Time for a Same-Sex Divorce

Marriage requires hard work from spouses, and sometimes, they encounter problems that are too serious to ignore, making living together as a couple impossible. Here are the signs that it is time to think about the same-sex divorce:

  • You Lack Intimacy

We are not talking about things like hugs, kisses, or sex since not all couples need them in their relationships. It’s more about losing emotional intimacy when you stop talking in the evenings, sharing secrets and gossip from work, or seeking comfort in each other when the days are not so bright.

Trust and transparent communication are the basis of a healthy and long-lasting marriage; without them, everything starts to fall apart. If you realize that your relationship has turned to just living under the same roof, it may be time to consider divorce.

  • You Stopped Trying to Solve Your Problems

Of course, you will never find a couple with no problems at all, but most spouses who want to save their marriage put a lot of effort into resolving issues that spoil their relationships. Some prefer self-reflection and long, sincere conversations, while others seek family counseling. One way or another, any method of saving a marriage would work if both partners do their best.

If you do not want to fight for your love anymore and see that your spouse shows no interest in doing that, perhaps it’s a sign that your relationship has come to an end.

  • You Don’t See the Future in the Same Way

Antoine Saint-Exupéry once said that true love is looking in the same direction, and you won’t find a better description for perfect healthy relationships. If your dreams and aspirations are opposing, it inevitably creates problems for a marriage. Maybe you want to have kids, but your spouse dreams of living a child-free life. Or maybe you are pondering over moving to another city, while your partner would never agree to do that.

If neither of you is ready to sacrifice your plans or reach a compromise, that’s a pretty bad sign that you can imagine your future without each other.

  • The Family Atmosphere is Harmful for Your Children

It is one of the main red flags revealing that something is off in your relationship. The sad truth is that all your fights, blame games, and silent treatment are never left unnoticed by your little ones. Seeing their parents angry and unhappy makes them suffer as well.

Your children deserve to live in an environment that facilitates their harmonious development, and sometimes, it can only be attained if their parents decide to part ways.

Divorce Basics: Filing Requirements

In general, gay divorce in Texas does not differ much from the opposite-sex one in terms of preparations and filing. Here are the steps you need to take to obtain a same-sex divorce in Texas:

  • Determining the Type of Divorce

First, you must decide on the divorce type you have. There are two types of marriage dissolution in Texas: contested and uncontested. A contested one is inevitable when spouses cannot agree on the divorce matters out of court, while an uncontested case is filed when a couple has reached the full agreement on all divorce-related issues and needs the court to approve it.

  • Ensuring You Meet Residency Requirements

Next, you must meet the residency requirements of the state and county so that the court can have jurisdiction over your case. In Texas, you or your spouse must reside in the state for at least 6 months before filing the petition. For county requirements, the minimum period is 90 days.

  • Preparing Paperwork

You have to collect all the papers that will be needed for your divorce case. If you do not work with a lawyer, you’ll have to find the state-approved forms on your own or get help from an online divorce service.

  • Filing

After you’ve prepared the forms, file them with the district clerk’s office. You also have to pay the filing fee, which is currently approximately $300.

  • Serving a Respondent

As soon as you file the forms, you must send the copies to your spouse. In Texas, you can serve the paperwork via the county sheriff or process server. The second party has 20 days to answer the petition.

  • Completing Waiting Period

When all the documents are filed and served, you must wait at least 60 days before the court starts reviewing your case. However, according to Texas laws, if any of the spouses is a victim of domestic violence, divorce can be granted earlier.

  • Attending Final Hearing

Finally, once all the steps are completed and the waiting period is over, you may need to visit the court for a final hearing. It usually does not take too long in uncontested cases since the judge will only ask you a few questions and review your papers. If your documents are in order, they will finalize your divorce.

What Are the Differences?

Even though the filing steps for same- and opposite-sex divorces are more or less similar, there are still some differences that can make the marriage dissolution process more difficult for LGBT+ couples than for heterosexual ones.

Why is divorce for many same-sex couples currently more complicated than for opposite-sex couples? Since marriage and divorce rights in most states were given to LGBTQ+ couples only in 2015, there are still some laws that need to be adopted or amended. In general, during a divorce, same-sex couples usually encounter problems with the following aspects:

  • Property Division

In any US state, the judge must divide the property and assets between spouses before finalizing a divorce. The first factor the court considers when dealing with property division is the length of the marriage. A same-sex couple who was officially married after 2015 could be together for a longer time. However, it depends on each judge whether they will consider the years before 2015 as the marital life of a couple or not.

The main problem with dividing property in community property states like Texas is determining what is considered marital and separate assets. The more time a couple lived together, the more property they may have acquired.

Therefore, it is important to establish the real length of the union to determine what can be considered separate property and what should be divided between spouses.

Very often, taking into account the above-mentioned specificities, the judge’s final decision may appear unfair to one of the parties.

  • Alimony

When awarding alimony to same-sex spouses, the courts usually take into account factors such as marriage length, the couple’s financial abilities, etc.

However, the problem with the allocation of spousal support is generally similar to the issue with property division – the judge may not take into consideration the fact that the couple had been living together long before officially marrying.

Therefore, they can make a decision that is not favorable for a spouse who needs to be financially supported after many years of contributing to a marriage.

  • Child custody

The issue of gay marriages and children born to them can be a complicated one, especially in the context of divorce. When dealing with child custody allocation, the judge always takes into account the best interest of the child. But how to determine which parent in the same-sex couple must get the custody? In this case, the court normally gives preference to a biological parent.

However, the issue with same-sex couples lies in the fact that both spouses may not be related to the child biologically. For example, the kid may be adopted or born via surrogacy.

In many states, to get custody over a non-biological child, the second parent must have adopted them, which is not always the case for many couples. As a result, the second parent risks not getting any custody rights at all.

In Texas, both parents must be biologically related to the child or obtain a parenting order from the court to be equally eligible for custody. However, the non-biological parent must meet strict requirements to get this order.

  • Child Support

According to the US laws, in heterosexual unions, both biological parents must financially support their children. In the case of same-sex couples, where only one parent may be biological, while the second one may not possess any adoptive rights over the child, things get more complicated.

As a result, only the biological parent can be responsible for maintaining their kid financially and may not be awarded any child support.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *