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4 Things Same-Sex Couples Should Know When Considering Divorce

The path to equal marriage rights has been a long one for Florida's LGBTQ+ communities. Even today, the state legislature protects officials who refuse to take part in same-sex weddings.

For years, gay couples wanting to marry could circumvent Florida law with relative ease. Namely, they could obtain a marriage license from a different state. Divorce rights, however, have been much more difficult to secure. And this has had serious consequences - logistical, emotional, and financial - for individuals and couples throughout Florida.

Florida Hasn't Made Same-Sex Divorce Easy

Whether they recognized gay marriages or not, every state had stringent residency requirements that prevented spur-of-the-moment divorces. As such, same-sex Floridian couples wanting to end their relationships could not legally do so. (Vermont eventually changed its laws to accommodate LGBTQ+ divorces.)

The first formal divorce for a gay couple in Florida was granted in late 2014. Still, at the time many other divorce petitions were in the process of being rejected. By the summer of 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional, more and more gay couples were permitted divorces. And now, finally, divorce is available to all.

Divorce Is An Important Way To Protect Yourself

Nevertheless, many individuals in same-sex relationships don't understand the importance of divorce. Especially in Florida, a number of marriage laws force unhappy couples into legal arrangements that can be damaging to all parties involved.

A recent article in the Tampa Bay Times illustrates a number of reasons why divorce rights are so crucial:

  • Florida law insists that spouses receive assets in the event of death. If a couple doesn't divorce, one's assets will go to an unwanted beneficiary-and not to more appropriate family or friends.
  • Married individuals cannot remove spouses as beneficiaries of tax-free retirement accounts. This, too, prevents people from benefitting the people they would like to.
  • Health insurance premiums will be much higher for married individuals than they are for divorcees, as the Affordable Care Act determines subsidies based on joint income.
  • Child custody matters can become incredibly complicated and expensive for same-sex couples who separate without obtaining a divorce, as issues of biological or adoptive relationships will take precedent over considerations that may be more pertinent.

"Divorce may not be easy," the Tampa Bay Times notes, "but not having access to it can make life even more complicated."

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