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How will repeal of DOMA affect gay divorce, custody?

Even though a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act has been repealed, same-sex couples in Ohio and other states may still feel the bias and pressure from opponents of homosexuality. This is made possible by the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to leave Section 2 of DOMA intact while repealing Section 3. In Section 2, states are allowed to deny marriages that are accepted and acknowledged in other states. In Section 3, the federal government chose not to recognize same-sex marriages and therefore barred the many benefits provided to marriages involving opposite-sex spouses -- this is no longer the case, though.

So now that federal benefits are being provided and many children of same-sex couples are being acknowledged, what happens next? Like heterosexual couples, it is possible that love will not last forever and that the relationship will end at some point. A divorce can get complicated quickly, especially when children are involved. Add in the wishy-washy laws surrounding same-sex marriages and the different recognitions from state to state and one may find her or his head spinning. Divorce courts will have to make adjustments to prepare for homosexual couples since few norms have been established regarding such splits. Just like in heterosexual divorces, custody determinations will have to be made and property will have to be divided -- not that this didn't happen before, but it is likely that there will be more now that a portion of DOMA has been repealed.

Same-sex couples, especially those with children, are often familiar with the legal hoops that they must jump through in everyday life. Some couples even make a point of reassessing the legal documents they have in place every few years because of the many legal changes that are occurring regarding same-sex marriage. Interestingly, some couples even use the legal system to protect themselves and the current child custody arrangements by suing one another for joint custody. However, when divorce strikes, it can be just as complicated as an opposite-sex divorce, if not more so. This is when many individuals seek the assistance of a lawyer and if odd legal protections are already in place, it may play a role in the separation and in same-sex custody litigation.

Source: The Guardian, "American same-sex couples still face discrimination, despite Doma downfall" Karen McVeigh, Jul. 06, 2013

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