If you were married for longer than twenty years, the court may award alimony through full social security retirement age. A short-term marriage typically results in shorter time that alimony may have to be paid. Longer marriages less than 20 years may demand payment for up to 80 percent of the length of the marriage. Alimony laws aim to affect all married couples, no matter the sexual orientation.
However, due to historical bans on same-sex marriage, a gay or lesbian couple may have been living together and holding themselves out as a married couple for many years prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage. It can be greatly unfair to tally the years a same-sex couple has been married if the right for them to marry only recently emerged as an option despite many prior years of partnership and commitment.
Additionally, if both parties cannot agree on the length of the marriage, this can create additional, significant problems. In , the Massachusetts Appeals Court heard a relevant case concerning a heterosexual couple. The court affirmed a divorce judgment that considered the contributions of the parties during a period of pre-marital cohabitation.
Stone 41 Mass. The definition includes the sharing of a primary residence with the other person, among other factors. The existence of such a relationship has an effect on the obligation of spousal support.
In summary, when it comes to divorce, a couple may count the years during which they were together prior to marriage, if they are able to provide proof. The evolving issues of same-sex divorce make it important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer as early in the process as possible. Because a same-sex divorce poses unique challenges, knowing your legal rights and options can be the key to fair treatment.
Your divorce lawyer can help you tackle the complexities and ambiguities pertaining to same-sex couples in Massachusetts. Subscribe To Our Newsletter Email address:. Bush later broached the idea of a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and woman.
On Feb. In November , following a diverse series of appeals court rulings from the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th circuits that state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, a ruling by the 6th Circuit court found such bans to be constitutional. The diverse opinions emanating from the federal appeals process in time sent the issue to the U.
Supreme Court. On June 26, , in a decision, the high tribunal reversed the 6th Circuit by ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
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Many same-sex spouses have multiple starting points to their marriage. The date of the legal marriage is generally easy to determine, but the official marriage date can be tricky to pin down. If substantial assets were acquired by the parties before they were legally married, but this can become a significant complexity in a divorce proceeding.
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For same-sex and LGBT spouses who were prevented from marrying under the law, the durational limits for alimony based on the length of the legal marriage can seem deeply unfair. The Massachusetts alimony statute includes an exception to the ordinary rule that limits alimony based on the length of the marriage. The statute, M.
In short, the duration of alimony may be extended for spouses who cohabitated prior to being married. Same-sex and LBGT couples who cohabitated together prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage often have a particularly strong claim to extended alimony, but the argument is far from automatic.
After all, many couples cohabitate before getting married, and the mere fact that spouses lived together before tying knot does not automatically extend the alimony duration period. Compounding the complexity surrounding child custody, asset division and alimony is the fact that many same-sex LGBT couples feature two high-income individuals. High net worth divorces are far from unique: They occur when both heterosexual marriages and LGBT marriages break down, and the spouses have substantial income and assets between them.
However, the unique complexities surrounding same-sex divorce are often amplified in high net worth cases, where the additional wealth requires additional skillsets from the attorneys involved. The truth is that both same-sex divorce cases and high net worth divorce cases require attorneys to possess unique skills, experience and resources. An attorney representing a LGBT client in a high net worth divorce must possess the skills required for all of the challenges arising from both class of cases.
While same-sex divorces pose unique alimony concerns, asset division challenges, child custody challenges and the added complexity of high net worth clients, even the most seemingly straight-forward divorce can feature unforeseen complexity.
Thinking of Getting Married in Massachusetts?
Just like in divorces involving heterosexual couples, LGBT and same-sex divorces can include the following areas of law:. Our attorneys have experience representing spouses in the same-sex divorce process, protecting their rights and interests and ensuring they reach the resolution they need to live their best life in the future.
Call our law office at for a consultation or contact us online. Our divorce attorneys in Hingham and on Cape Cod can give you the help you need to make it through this challenging time.
Massachusetts Attorney Kimberley Keyes examines modifying child support orders and judgments in Massachusetts. Click here f or print friendly PDF Divorce attorney Carmela M. Massachusetts attorney Jason V.