A Same-Sex “Divorce” in Alabama is Complicated

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Jun 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

A Birmingham divorce can be complicated even under the most ideal circumstances.


However, Birmingham divorce lawyers know that for same-sex couples, it's even trickier, especially in Alabama, as it is not legal for them to be wedded in the first place.

That means one of two things:

1. The separating couple was never legally married, and yet, aspects such as child custody and shared property still must be worked out;

2. The couple had been married in another state and then moved to Alabama, where they can't legally divorce. In a sense, they're "wed-locked." 

In either situation, our Birmingham family law attorneys can help.

Some might fall into the thinking that if they live in Alabama, which doesn't recognize the marriage, that there is no need for a divorce. But simply going separate ways may not be enough, especially if there are children involved.

Last month, a judge in the Maryland Supreme Court decided that even though that state doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it could grant a same-sex divorce. This set an important precedent, although unfortunately, it doesn't have any direct impact here in Alabama.

Because same-sex unions aren't recognized at the federal level, there are all types of tax issues that will crop up as well.

Custody issues are even more difficult because even when both parties have agreed to mutually raise the child, in the event of the split, the biological parent may be granted more rights.

What it all comes down to is that while you can't get a legal divorce in Alabama if you are part of a same-sex union, you can get assistance with regard to the proper dissolution of the various entanglements of your union.

Another possibility you may want to consider is a process of collaborative law in Alabama. Collaborative law provides that one attorney represents both sides of the dispute in an effort to settle some of the most pressing matters. In these cases, participants will have to sign an agreement saying that they agree to exchange complete financial information, maintain confidentiality, reach written agreements on all issues and authorize the attorneys to use those written agreements in order to get a final decree from the court.

Again, it won't be a formal divorce, but it can help you both establish legal ground rules in moving forward.

Now if you're in the separation stage, it's too late for this, but something all same-sex couples in Alabama should consider is a prenuptial agreement – or at least one of sorts. Our family law attorneys can help you establish a contract while you are just beginning your lives together so that if you choose to separate later on, some of those details will already be in writing.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Denied divorce, some same-sex couples are ‘wed-locked', By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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