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What makes same sex divorce different?
Since October 2014 in North Carolina and June 2015 nationwide, the same marriage laws and divorce laws have applied to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. However, since same-sex marriage recently came onto the scene as a North Carolina legal issue, these couples have a few extra issues and questions to answer when faced with a divorce.
What about long-term cohabitation?
When a couple begins to fill out paperwork for a separation or divorce, they may wonder what date to use for the beginning of their marital relationship. Should they use the date they began to live together or the date they were legally married. A family court in North Carolina considers only the date of a legal marriage, regardless of how long a couple cohabits before then.

North Carolina does not recognize common law marriage. Courts will not recognize a couple who has lived together and acted as a married couple for an extended period of time as married by common law. However, North Carolina will recognize a common law marriage that was established in a previous state of residence.

What does equitable distribution mean?
The state of North Carolina is an Equitable Distribution state. This means marital property will be split equitably based on various legal considerations, just as with an opposite-sex divorce. The biggest aspect to keep in mind is that marital property only includes property accumulated since the date you two were legally married.
Is a “divorce” now necessary for same sex marriage?
Now that same-sex marriage is legal, a couple must obtain a divorce if they no longer wish to be legally married. Some same-sex couples face the unique situation that they legally married in one state. They then moved to a state where same-sex marriage was not legal. This made obtaining a divorce quite difficult. Bottom line, if you are legally married and never obtained a divorce then that marriage remains legally binding.
What about child custody?
When each spouse in a same-sex marriage legally adopts a child (or children), they will reach a custody agreement together the same as opposite-sex spouses. When one spouse is the legal parent—biologically or through adoption—and the other is not, confusion and concerns may arise at the time of a divorce. The non-legal parent may have no rights when it comes to custody of the child(ren). Only a legal adoption of a child ensures custody rights. However, a non-legal parent may present proof if the legal parent has been inconsistent in their responsibilities and it would be detrimental to the child(ren) to remain in the custody of the legal parent.
What do I do now?
Divorce is not easy, but you don’t have to be alone. Contact us today so we can schedule a consultation, answer your questions, and lead you through the entire process. Call now to schedule a consultation, or click here to schedule a consultation online!


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