New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage in 2013. In the years since then, the number of same-sex households in the state has approached 30,000. Any type of household can experience marital discord. Roughly one in every 100 same-sex marriages will end each year. When that happens, the couple must go through the same divorce process. There is one set of laws for every divorce in New Jersey, although there may be some distinctly complex issues in a same-sex divorce.
Any divorce in New Jersey requires the spouses to resolve the following issues for the split to be finalized:
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Child custody and visitation
New Jersey is a no-fault state for divorce. A spouse does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong to cause the dissolution of the marriage.
With property division, New Jersey relies upon the laws of equitable distribution. The court would look to various factors to determine who gets what amount of property, including but not limited to:
- The duration of the marriage.
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marital assets.
- The earnings power of the spouses.
- The marital standard of living.
- The age and health of the parties.
Complexities Involved in Dividing Marital Property
While the same general legal concepts may apply in a same-sex divorce, there could be additional complexities. For example, the couple may have been in a committed relationship for some time before the point when same-sex marriage was legalized. This presented challenges when the court was to decide on the equitable division of property. Equitable division laws do not apply to periods when the spouse was not in a recognized partnership or marriage. Even if the couple was together for decades, the length of the actual marriage under New Jersey law is what matters.
This can make the process challenging because each spouse may have held property in their own name before the marriage. The property may not be marital under the strict terms of the law, but the judge could consider it to be when it was treated as marital property for a certain length of time.
The same issues about the length of the marriage may also complicate any determination of spousal support. Generally, alimony is based on the amount of time a couple was married, even though they may have been together for a long time beforehand.
Issues Relating to Child Custody
The spouses may not be treated equally when it comes to custody matters. Both spouses are likely not to be biological parents. New Jersey law gives certain advantages to a biological parent, even though both may have been raising the child. If the child has two legal parents, then the usual principles applicable to child custody matters in New Jersey would be at work here. The court would use the best interests of the child test to determine any matters on which the divorcing couple cannot agree.
Contact Our Middlesex Divorce Lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC Today
If you are seeking a divorce, our Middlesex divorce lawyers at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC can help. Call us today at 732-494-6099 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Metuchen, New Jersey, we serve clients in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Union County, and Somerset County.