I’ve discussed some issues in civil union dissolutions in previous blog posts (here and here). Today, the Washington Post has an article which talks about other elements of civil union dissolution (and same sex marriage divorce in Massachussets, the only state to formally call it marriage). The article presents the case of two divorcing lesbians in MA who each gave birth to a child from the same sperm donor.
While the parties are litigating, a family court in Boston has come up with a Solomonic ruling, saying that each of the women can spend half the week alone in the family home with the children.
One same sex marriage divorcing male in MA noted:
“I wasn’t aware of how messy things were going to get. The legal maneuvering we had to go through was enormous, and it was difficult to find attorneys who were willing to handle the issue because there just aren’t that many lawyers familiar enough with the law and how it affects a gay divorce.”
Since Federal law does not recognize marriage between two people of the same sex, distributing assets (normally a tax free event) is taxable.
Lawyers have found no shortage of creative solutions around the tax codes by swapping assets, setting up irrevocable trusts and parceling out years’ worth of payments in amounts that meet the tax threshold.
I’ve talked about how the length of a marriage or civil union is determined in a same sex context and the article talks about that too:
Massachusetts is an equitable-distribution state, and a major factor in determining the distribution of assets is the duration of the marriage. But gay couples are fighting that in court, contending they would have been married longer if it had been allowed. The argument is gaining ground with judges who have been willing in same-sex divorce cases to take account of the entire length of the relationship in deciding on division of assets.
“If a couple has been together for 25 years in Massachusetts, their assets would be divided 50-50,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, who has handled several same-sex divorces. “But a same-sex couple has only been married a maximum of three years, so do you treat it as a three-year marriage or a 25-year marriage? A lot of judges are now saying: Treat it as a long-term marriage.”