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Marriage equality could change divorce law for everyone

When a married couple comes to the conclusion that it is time to end their relationship, there are a number of legal arrangements that can be made to ensure that financial obligations are met and family members are accounted for. It is for that reason that Illinois divorce litigation typically addresses issues like alimony and child custody agreements. However, countless nontraditional relationships throughout the country are not currently recognized under the law and therefore cannot be legally undone either.

Many people may agree that the divorce of today is not the same as the divorce of even 10 years ago. State and federal laws have been updated and/or created to address changes in child custody, support and visitation agreements, along with other factors. And the prospect of legalizing same-sex marriage on the federal level can be expected to influence divorce policies as well.

The most obvious change to the legal system would be that same-sex divorce would be recognized along with marriage. At the moment, civil unions are recognized by only a limited number of states. Therefore, couples looking to dissolve their unions must do so in states that are willing to acknowledge their legitimacy.

Legally ending a civil union or marriage provides the opportunity to make arrangements for things like property division and child support. Similarly, legal divorce accounts for the rights and responsibilities of parents. The rights of many gay and straight non-biological parents are not protected under the law unless they file for second-parent adoption. Legalizing same-sex marriage would streamline child custody policies for traditional and nontraditional families alike.

Given that marriage and divorce continue to evolve with the times and culture, legalizing same-sex marriage may go a long way in making divorce law more fair and effective for everyone.

Source: nj.com, “Kids fare better in same-sex divorces, too: A Q&A on gay divorce,” Jim Namiotka, May 3, 2013

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