Every divorce has unique components, but LGBTQ divorces can be more complicated than heterosexual ones. Michigan state law guides the process of separating the lives of spouses. Whether a couple negotiates a settlement outside of court or litigates in front of a judge, they will need to handle both property division and custody matters if they share children.
When an LGBTQ couple divorces, the same rules generally apply. A couple needs to reach a fair way of splitting up their assets under Michigan’s equitable distribution statute. They also need to create a custody arrangement that upholds what is best for the children in the family.
Typically, the interpretation of these rules is straightforward, but there can sometimes be two issues that arise for couples seeking an LGBTQ divorce. The newness of LGBTQ marriage laws means that there are some issues not currently addressed by state statutes. What are potential areas of concern in an LGBTQ divorce?
Gray areas with property division
With most couples, it is very obvious which assets are marital assets and which assets are separate property. It isn’t always so clear in a same-sex divorce.
If a couple lived together and shared their lives as though they were married before Michigan recognized same-sex marriages, they could have years worth of shared income and assets from when they were not technically married.
A careful evaluation of your relationship history and financial records can help you determine if there will be property division complications in your divorce.
Concerns with child custody matters
In some LGBTQ marriages, one spouse has biological children from a previous relationship. Other times, one spouse contributes genetic material toward a child that the couple raises as their own. Sometimes, it is adoption that brings a child into their family.
If a couple disagrees strongly about custody rights and only one parent has a legal or genetic tie to the children, that may lead to complex custody litigation. If the spouses can’t agree to a specific custody arrangement outside of court, then a parent who hasn’t adopted or formally established their rights could lose access to the children.
Understanding the unique issues that may arise during your LGBTQ divorce can help you better plan to protect yourself.