January 31, 2019 | Share
Divorce Considerations for Same-Sex Spouses in Texas
In the approximately three-and-a-half years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, many same-sex couples have used the Supreme Court’s proclamation of equal rights to bring their marriages to an end in Texas. While gay and lesbian couples continue to face some unique challenges, when it comes to getting divorced, the core legal principles apply equally to spouses seeking to end same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. If you are thinking about filing for a same-sex divorce in Texas in 2019, here is a list of the key legal issues you will need to consider:
1. Property Division
Texas is a “community property” state. This means that when you get divorced, you and your spouse will need to divide the assets that you acquired during your marriage according to what is “just and right.” While Texas law presumes that a 50/50 split will satisfy this standard, there are various circumstances in which an unequal split may be warranted. There are also circumstances in which assets acquired prior to a marriage may be subject to division, and in which assets acquired during a marriage may fall outside of a couple’s “community estate.”
For same-sex couples who were together prior to Obergefell v. Hodges, one potential complication involves determining the date on which they were legally considered married under Texas law. If you and your spouse lived together prior to your formal marriage ceremony, you may have been considered “informally” married for the entire period that you lived together.
2. Child Custody
Texas law requires all custody determinations to be made in the “best interests” of the children involved. The law also establishes a presumption that it is in a child’s interests to continue to spend time with both parents following a divorce. Working full-time is not a bar to securing custody in Texas, and parents have a variety of options when it comes to scheduling custody and co-parenting arrangements.
3. Child Support
In Texas, determining parents’ child support obligations involves utilizing a statutory “net income” calculation. This calculation examines the parents’ income from all sources and then subtracts eligible expenses before applying a percentage formula to arrive at a monthly payment amount. While calculating child support should be fairly straightforward in most cases, there are various potential issues that can complicate the process.
4. Spousal Support
Spousal support, or spousal maintenance, calculations are also similar for same-sex and opposite-sex couples in Texas. Absent special circumstances, no spousal support will be awarded in divorces involving marriages of less than 10 years; and, for marriages lasting longer than 10 years, there are both durational and monthly payment caps for spousal maintenance awards.
As with most things in life, when seeking a divorce, planning ahead can make the process go much more smoothly. If you would like to speak with an attorney about how to address these issues in light of the unique circumstances of your marriage, we encourage you to contact us for a complimentary initial consultation.
Schedule a Free Initial Divorce Consultation in McKinney, TX
If you would like to speak with one of our family lawyers about planning for your divorce, please call 214-726-1450 or contact us online. We will schedule your complimentary initial consultation as soon as possible at a time that is convenient for you.
Categories: Family Law & Divorce