When opposite-sex couples decide to get divorced and begin splitting up assets, it may seem pretty straightforward. If they got married in 2010, everything they bought jointly after that is a marital asset that they purchased together. These are the assets they both have a claim to and that they need to divide.
For same-sex couples, though, things are not so clear. When did the relationship really start? It may be different than the date of the marriage. How should they divide assets that were purchased before the date of marriage, especially if marriage wasn’t legal before that?
Legality in Texas only started in 2015
This is especially an issue in Texas and other states that kept same-sex marriage illegal until the Supreme Court ruled that all states had to allow it in 2015. A same-sex couple in Texas may have started living together in a committed, loving relationship — a marriage in all but name — back in 2010. Despite their desire to get married, though, the state legally wouldn’t allow them to do it.
For the next five years, they may have bought cars, homes, art, furnishings and many other joint assets. They may have had children and started families. In 2015, when they were finally allowed to have equal rights, they may have gotten married.
But does that mean that their marital assets are just everything they bought after 2015? Or can they count the assets they acquired from 2010 to 2015? After all, they wanted to be married then, but they weren’t allowed by the state. Does that change how a divorce plays out? What rights do they actually have to some of these assets, or did the way that marriage laws lagged behind other states essentially deny them these rights?
A complicated situation
This is merely one example of how a same-sex divorce can be much different than an opposite-sex divorce, but it already shows how it can turn into a complex situation. If you find yourself wondering about your rights, be sure you carefully look into the current laws and your legal options.