Landmark changes came to same-sex marriage in 2015, as it became a federal right, but New York was ahead of the curve. Same-sex couples have been allowed to marry since 2011.here.
However, even that is a relatively short amount of time, so all same-sex marriages within the state are fairly recent, unless people moved to New York from somewhere else. Plus, some couples who wanted to marry may have put it off, despite being in a committed relationship, due to social pressures from colleagues, friends and family members.
All of this creates a significant problem when these couples decide to get divorced. When did that relationship start? When did the couple start commingling their assets and buying marital assets that need to get divided between the two of them?
While one may be tempted to just point at the wedding date, many couples were together for years or even decades before getting married became legal. They may not have been officially married, but they were essentially a married couple, purchasing assets together.
Should one person now lose all rights to a home just because the other person’s name is on the mortgage and the couple could not be married when they bought the home? What about money that they have been putting aside for retirement for the last 40 years?
Does the couple’s right to share assets really begin no earlier than 2011, or were they sharing them the entire time? Should alimony center around the length of the marriage or the length of the relationship?
These are complex questions, and these cases often grow complicated, so it is important for people to know all of their legal rights.
Source: CNBC, “Same-sex divorce poses complications for some splitting couples,” Sarah O’Brien, accessed May 10, 2018