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Same-sex divorce in Maryland

The June 2015 Supreme Court decision that overturned the final legal block to gay marriage also opened the door for divorce among same-sex couples. While in the main this will not be handled materially differently from heterosexual marriages, there are some crucial key differences that will require vetting through case law to resolve properly. This is because many of these situations are not currently countenanced by existing legal precedent, including tax law and child custody considerations.

The effect of the historic ruling will require states to provide the same benefits to same-sex couples as they do to heterosexual ones. This may take some time to implement, as it will likely necessitate some statutory changes. The 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act had a similar effect with respect to federal benefits.

The major stumbling block could be child custody and support issues. Because any children are likely to be genetically related to only one of the parents in a same-sex marriage, questions such as the rights of sperm donors or other interested parties may be raised, creating a much more complicated climate for resolving custody issues. Additionally, the common tendency of granting custody to the biological mother might have to be reexamined.

A family law attorney representing a party in a same-sex divorce may need to consider the additional legal issues that are present. Because they exist largely without precedent, the attorney may want to rely on precedents set in heterosexual divorces as a starting point. The attorney might wish to ensure preparation for a number of legal stumbling blocks and counsel the client accordingly.

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