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What does the Supreme Court ruling mean for same-sex divorce?

The landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country, no doubt, is changing the lives of many Louisiana couples who have been waiting to tie the knot. However, it’s also significant for same-sex couples legally married in another state, but seeking to get a divorce in Louisiana. Because same-sex marriage wasn’t recognized under Louisiana law, they couldn’t file for divorce previously here at home.

One couple who was married in Massachusetts wasted no time. They filed for divorce in Orleans Parish shortly after the high court’s decision was handed down. The Times-Picayune called the couple’s divorce “bittersweet history.” After five years of separation, they were granted a divorce even before the first Louisiana same-sex couple wed.

Same-sex divorce in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling may not be so easy for everyone living in states where their marriage wasn’t legally recognized. An attorney with the Gay Family Law Center says that one significant issue is determining when the marriage was official. This can affect the benefits to which each spouse is entitled after divorce. In Louisiana, the “clock” for community property division starts when they were officially considered to be married.

In states like Louisiana, where the marriages of same-sex couples are only now being recognized, child custody issues may also be complicated. These marriages don’t involve traditional gender-specific mother and father roles. Further, a couple’s children may be biologically related to only one of the parents or perhaps to neither.

As the Gay Family Law Center attorney notes, “It’s going to be a while” before the law catches up, and “there are going to be inconsistencies in the decisions.” Same-sex Louisiana couples seeking help with divorce, child custody, prenuptial agreements, adoption and other family law issues should seek legal guidance from an experienced family law attorney who can help them maneuver the courts in this new era.

Source: Huffington Post, “As Same-Sex Couples Line Up To Wed, Others Celebrate The Right To Divorce,” Kim Belware, July 1, 2015

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