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December 2, 2010
Is Gay Divorce Any Different Than Straight Divorce?
One of the most hotly debated questions amongst my lawyer and mediator colleagues is whether or not gay or lesbian divorces differ from straight divorces, and if so, in what ways. While some folks opine that all divorces are miserable in their own unique way, I’m convinced there are numerous differences. I think this is so, even where the legal procedures for state-registered domestic partners, civil union partners, or same-sex married spouses are just about identical to the divorce procedures used by straight folks.
To my mind the differences are historic, legal, and cultural, and while every divorce has its own dynamics and presents its own particular issues, many same-sex break-ups present a cluster of special challenges that rarely arise for straight couples. Here’s a quick summary of the most frequently recurring issues, based upon my experience as a lawyer and mediator in the San Francisco Bay Area.