How Is Same-Sex Divorce Treated in Florida?

September 30, 2019

Since a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2015, federal law has dictated that same-sex couples have all the same rights regarding marriage as heterosexual couples. But what happens when a same-sex couple decide they want to get divorced?
Courts are currently working to adapt the rules for heterosexual divorces to same-sex divorces, and under Florida law, the two are treated the same. Still, it is important for same-sex couples to understand the general processes involved with divorce before they get started with their case.

Here’s a quick overview from a divorce lawyer in Miami, FL about the divorce process.

Filing the paperwork

The first step in the divorce process is to complete and file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the jurisdiction in which you reside. At least one of the two of you must have lived in Florida for at least six months to satisfy the state’s residency requirement for divorce. If you are the one seeking the divorce, you must also be able to demonstrate that the marriage is broken, or that the other party is mentally incapacitated if the divorce is to be able to proceed.

If the divorce is uncontested, the process can then work relatively quickly from there. However, uncontested divorces make up a very small minority of divorce cases. There will most likely be at least a few issues that are contested, such as property division or alimony, which could result in you needing to go to counseling or mediation to work through those issues so you can avoid the long, expensive court process.

Alimony and child support

The rules for alimony and child support apply to all couples. However, because same-sex marriage wasn’t legally recognized in Florida until 2015, there can be some differences at least for the moment regarding how alimony is determined. For married couples, alimony arrangements are made in part based on the length of the marriage. There may, then, be some issues that the court will have to work through if the couple was together for a long time but could not legally get married in the state of Florida, or if the couple was legally married in a different state but then moved to Florida before the marriage was legally recognized there.

This is just one example of how the law may now treat same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples for the purposes of divorce, but in practice there may still be some challenges just because same-sex marriage was not federally legalized until 2015. With same-sex marriage still being such a relatively new concept, there are going to be a number of challenges that Florida and other states will need to work through before the process can look essentially the same for just about any couple.

For more information about the processes associated with same-sex divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Miami, FL at the Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler. We look forward to meeting with you and working on your case.

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