The Struggle of the Same Sex Divorce

We often get calls from frustrated potential clients who are seeking a dissolution of their same sex marriage complaining about the wrong legal information they acquired from previous attorneys.

But because gay marriage is relatively new — Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it in 2004 — same-sex couples trying to get divorced have found their attempts come with high price tags.

Time together: Reality vs. legality

Many same-sex couples were together for years, even decades, before they were allowed to marry. That can be an expensive problem in a divorce, as most courtrooms will only divide assets starting from the time a couple actually got married.

A same-sex couple may have only been married for so many years, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t married in their hearts for much longer — and already co-mingled their assets or bought property together says New York based family attorney Leon Mindin

That’s what happened to Margaret Wenig. The New York-based rabbi got divorced earlier this year from a woman she married in 2008, and with whom she had registered as a domestic partner in 1996.

“But for the 17 years prior to our civil marriage, we lived as if we were married,” she said. “We raised children together, we merged our finances, we made each other the beneficiaries of our pensions and life insurance policies and in our wills.”

The two women were also executors and health care proxies for each other, and gave each other power of attorney. When they split, however, the court would only divide assets accumulated starting from when the couple married in 2008.

“Our divorce has not only been an emotional and financial nightmare for us but for our adult children and members of our extended family as well,” Wenig said.

While the cost of divorce varies by city and state, a traditional, heterosexual divorce in New York typically costs in the neighborhood of $10,000; Wenig said her divorce cost her over $120,000.

Our law firm has wide experience and handle same sex divorces and civil union dissolutions in New York. We are proud to serve the New York LGBT Community! Call us today at 888-501-3292 for a free phone consultation.