It has been more than four years now since the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation. Since then, many New Jersey couples have enjoyed the ability to formalize their relationship in the eyes of the law. However, it seems that the equality they share with heterosexual couples ends with marriage as divorce seems to remain distinctly different.
CNBC explains that there are many nuances of the Supreme Court’s decision that are still not fully resolved. One of these relates to the length of a couple’s relationship prior to the 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. If a couple got married after that date but had been in a relationship for 15 years prior to their legal marriage, it is not clear in the eyes of the law how to assess the length of their marriage or relationship if they get divorced.
Duration of the relationship can play directly into the determination of spousal support as it is common for this to be related to longer marriages. The courts here are granted an unclear level of discretion in assessing the duration, meaning it is possible for the end results of different divorces to differ greatly based on the judges involved.
NBC News adds that child custody and legal parental rights also remain an unclear and messy arena for same-sex couples. One partner may be the biological parent of a child but both parties may have cared for and raised that child together. Despite the daily realities, the non-biological parent may be at a disadvantage for custody or parental rights in a divorce.