Before heading in for a divorce proceeding, it’s very important for same-sex couples in Massachusetts to know what will be addressed. Examples of the key areas that will be touched on—which are largely the same as they’d be for opposite-sex couples—include the following:
1. The grounds upon which the divorce was filed. If you don’t have anything specific, like domestic violence, that’s fine. You can file for no fault divorce, which is how the majority of filings are submitted.
2. All decisions to be made regarding children, if applicable. This includes both child custody and child support, along with visitation rights.
3. The division of all of the assets that the couple has. It’s important to remember that this could also include the division of debts.
4. Alimony or spousal support that needs to be paid. This is not used in all divorces, but can be if one spouse gave up a career or education and has little earning potential, having expected to be supported.
5. Changing names, if needed.
6. Protective orders. These are used when there is a larger issue, such as domestic violence. The spouse who has been abused may be worried that filing for divorce could cause a violent reaction from the other spouse, which means that protective orders and other measures are sometimes needed to keep the situation from escalating.
Finally, it’s wise to note that you have to wait for the divorce to be finalized before you can get remarried.
Now that you know what areas will be addressed, be sure you know all of your legal options regarding each one.
Source: Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, “Separation, Divorce and Marriage Equality,” accessed Feb. 03, 2016