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Will Hawaii's legalization of gay marriage affect Georgians?

If you’re like many of our readers then you’ve probably seen the recent news about gay marriage in the United States. Just this week, the governor of Hawaii signed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage in the state. But as more states in the nation make this move, couples here in Georgia might be wondering what affect this will have on their own relationships, especially when it comes to the topic of divorce.

While same-sex couples here in Georgia will be allowed to marry in Hawaii and other states that recognize this union, it’s important to remember that Georgia’s laws still do not recognize this as legal. This means that if the same-sex couple decides to divorce, they may have to deal with complicated litigation down the road.

The most obvious complication is division of assets. Because our laws allow for the division of equitable assets between a husband and wife, gay couples may find that they do not fall under the definition of the law and may not be able to divide their assets evenly in a divorce. This could become even more complicated and require the help of a skilled attorney, especially if federal benefits get thrown into the mix. Because federal law now acknowledges same-sex marriage for the purposes of filing taxes and receiving government benefits, assets can become tangled and difficult to sort out, which may require extensive time and litigation in order to come to a resolution.

Child custody could also become an issue if a gay couple divorced here in Georgia. Because the legality of their union is questioned by law, so too might the parentage of the child. This might mean that custody and visitation get called into question and could result in a tenuous legal battle that might not end amicably.

When the announcement was made this month that Hawaii was going to legalize gay marriage, you may not have thought that it would affect couples here in Georgia. And while this is mostly true, as we’ve shown above, marrying in one state and getting a divorce in another state where that union is not recognized can complicate things considerably.

Source: ABC News, "Hawaii Governor to Sign State's Gay Marriage Bill," Oskar Garcia, Nov. 12, 2013

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