Same-sex marriage has been recognized in the state of Arizona for several years now. Unfortunately, divorce is an inescapable possibility in all marriages – including those involving the same sex. The good news is that same-sex couples don’t have to jump through any special hoops in order to dissolve their marriages. In fact, the rights and laws that pertain to dividing property, assets, debt, child support, and custody are the same for same-sex couples as those for heterosexual couples. Even so, same-sex couples may have unique experiences throughout the divorce process and understanding what’s involved with this process can help you know what to expect.
Petitioning for a Same-Sex Divorce in Arizona
The first step in dissolving your same-sex marriage in Arizona should be to seek out legal advice. The experts at Schill Law Group, for example, can help you make smart decisions regarding the best course of action for you, your ex, and your children. From here, you will complete a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” to be filed with the court. Filing the paperwork will result in being assigned a case number that you will need to refer to throughout the divorce process. In order to ensure that things get done quickly, efficiently, and correctly, we recommend having all paperwork filed with the court system prepared by a legal professional.
Taking the Next Steps
After the initial petition for a same-sex divorce has been filed, you’ll need to have your spouse legally served with the paperwork and offer proof of this service to the court. This will provide him or her with the opportunity to review your petition, seek legal representation, and file a response. Depending on your mutual debts, assets, and family situation, you may both need to work with mediators and legal counsel in order to come up with an agreement that works for everyone’s best interests.
Child Custody Issues in Same-Sex Divorces
For the most part, petitioning for a same-sex divorce and following through with the various steps for dissolving a marriage in the state of Arizona is identical to the experience of a heterosexual couple. In the case of child custody, however, same-sex couples may encounter some unique challenges or difficulties. In many cases, it is difficult for both parents in a same-sex marriage to have their names listed on their child’s birth certificate. While states like California allow two mothers and two fathers to be named on a certificate of live birth. Arizona law currently only allows one mother and one father to be listed. This can create conflict and confusion when it’s time to reach an agreement concerning which is the “rightful” parent and who gets custody of a child or children.
Although the system is not yet perfected, we have recently seen Arizona custody cases where same-sex couples are treated with the same “presumption of paternity” as heterosexual couples. To ensure that you are treated fairly, however, we urge you to work with an experienced divorce attorney.
Other Arizona Family Law Issues in Same-Sex Divorces
One other question that same-sex couples may have when dissolving a marriage involves how the length of the marriage is actually determined. This can be confusing when considering that a couple may have entered into a partnership or civil union in one state, been named domestic partners in another, and finally married in another state. A lawyer can help you determine what constitutes the correct length of your marriage.