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Gays Divorce Less Often Than Straights, But Face More Headaches

The annual divorce rate for same-sex couples who have legally married is 1.1%, surprisingly lower than the 2.2% rate for opposite-sex pairs, reports The Atlantic.

A 2011 study by the Williams Institute found that more than 140,000 same-sex couples had formalized their relationship under state law, with nearly 50,000 of them getting legally married.

“The data show that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses…. When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60 percent of those who marry come from other states.”

Why aren’t we dissolving our unions as often as our hetero counterparts? It’s not clear: Perhaps we’re more invested in proving we can make it work. Perhaps, without as much social pressure to wed, we only do it when it’s really a good match. Or maybe we don’t have as high expectations for the institution as straight people do.

But as gay marriage progresses throughout the land, it’s obvious it’s being tailed by it’s less attractive sibling: gay divorce.

“We have 34 [gay divorce] cases right now in the office, compared to 150 [heterosexual] divorce cases,” says legendary New York divorce lawyer Raoul Felder in the  Atlantic piece. Couples seeking a no-fault divorce in New York must prove their marriage was “irretrievably broken” for at least six months—so technically same-sex divorce has only been possible for half a year. Right now, Felder is mostly seeing gay couples who married in other states but as same-sex divorce begins “filtering down,” he’ll soon be dealing with more cases of “she said, she said.”

At least the situation is clear in the Empire State. In Florida, where same-sex marriage is not legal, resident married couples who have tied the knot elsewhere have no mechanism for dividing custody or assets, and find themselves at the mercy of the court system.

And let’s not forget about the emotions that run high during a divorce: “The antagonism and anger in these divorces is enormous,” Felder says. “These people have been so misused by the system and treated so shabbily [already].” When gay couples can finally jump the broom and it doesn’t work out, he says, there’s a terrible letdown.

Of course bigots will tout every failed same-sex marriage as an example of why we shouldn’t be allowed to wed. (As if straights have had such great luck with the institutution.) As Bex Schwartz, one of the organizers of New York’s Pop Up Chapel’ put it: “Marriage equality means marriage is marriage. Unfortunately, the other side is divorce is divorce.”

 

 

By:           C. Edwards
On:           Jun 26, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 2 Comments
    • Natasha
      Natasha

      The data might be skewed because you have couples who have been together for decades finally being able to get married, and those unions are less likely to dissolve than couples who have known each other for months or years.

      Jun 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt
      Hyhybt

      I believe this is key:

      “When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60 percent of those who marry come from other states.”

      Those mainly don’t have the *option* of divorce, because that would involve their home states recognizing the existence of their marriages.

      Jun 27, 2012 at 12:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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