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Questions on Same-Sex Divorce on Long Island, NY Answered

by | Dec 26, 2023 | Divorce Long Island, NY

Marriage between two persons of the same gender has long been a hot topic on Long Island, in both the state of New York, and throughout the country. In 2011, New York legalized same-sex marriage through Assembly Bill A8354, better known as the “Marriage Equality Act.” In passing this bill, New York became the sixth state to recognize gay and lesbian marriages.

It wasn’t until 2015, with the landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex couples in all 50 states were granted marriage equality. The court’s 5-4 decision gave same-sex marriage full and equal recognition.

With these protections for same-sex marriage came another consideration: same-sex divorce. Less than a decade after gay marriage became legal on a federal level, where do same-sex divorces stand on Long Island, NY today? Are there differences between heterosexual and homosexual divorces? What are the crucial factors spouses should consider when pursuing the dissolution of a same-sex marriage?

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The Importance of Divorce for Same-Sex Couples on Long Island, NY

Divorce plays an important role in the legal system on Long Island, New York. It offers structure and protection for both parties, enabling equitable resolution in a situation that can often be challenging and emotionally fraught. As you navigate the stages of divorce, working with experienced and skilled divorce lawyers can help you receive what you’re entitled to and protect your rights now, and in the future.

Before same-sex marriage was legalized on Long Island, NY, and in the rest of the country, same-sex couples couldn’t access these protections. Processes like distribution of property, resolution of child support disputes, child custody arrangements, and awarding of spousal support were not recognized for same-sex couples – meaning that the termination of longstanding relationships was often messy and inequitable.

Is Same-Sex Divorce Different from Heterosexual Divorce on Long Island, NY?

From a purely legal standpoint, there is no difference between same-sex divorces and heterosexual divorces on Long Island, NY. In both Nassau and Suffolk counties, same-sex divorce proceedings are treated in exactly the same way and with exactly the same processes as heterosexual divorce proceedings.

This applies to spousal maintenance (commonly called “alimony”) decisions, child custody and support decisions (including where adoption or a sperm/egg donor is involved), and much more. However, given the relatively recent legalization of same-sex marriage on Long Island, NY, there are some aspects of standard divorce proceedings that disadvantage LGBTQ+ couples.

Marriage Length as an Issue in Same-Sex Unions

Some matters in a divorce – such as spousal maintenance and division of property – are determined based on a formula that takes into account the length of the marriage. For instance, the longer a marriage has lasted, the longer the lower-earning spouse may be entitled to receive spousal maintenance from the higher-earning spouse.

For opposite-sex couples, this formula makes sense. But for same-sex couples, who have not always had the right to legally recognized marriage, official marriage length may complicate these calculations.

There are many LGBTQ+ couples that were together for decades before same-sex marriage was legally recognized on Long Island, NY. Many of these couples lived together, had children together, and bought property together – engaging in activities typically conducted by married couples but without a marriage license.

For instance, consider two couples: one heterosexual and one homosexual. Both couples began dating in 2005 and moved in together in 2006. The opposite-sex couple got married in 2007, while the same-sex couple didn’t walk down the aisle until 2011, when gay marriage was legalized in New York. Now, they are both divorcing in 2023.

The opposite-sex couple will have a marriage length of 16 years, which will afford the lower-earning spouse payments of spousal maintenance for up to eight years. The same-sex couple has only been legally married for 12 years, meaning the lower-earning spouse is only entitled to spousal maintenance payments for up to six years – despite the fact that these relationships have been on parallel tracks save for the legality of the marriage.

As a same-sex couple pursuing divorce on Long Island, New York, it is crucial to find a divorce lawyer who will fight for the equitable dissolution of your marriage and understands the nuances of same-sex divorce in New York.

Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Has a Proven Track Record of Success in Same-Sex Divorce on Long Island

Have more questions about same sex divorces? We’re here to help. No matter your financial situation, you deserve affordable, high-quality legal representation for your divorce.

Contact us to learn more about your legal options or to book your free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. Call now at 631-923-1910 or complete our short contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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