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When same-sex relationships end, settlements relies on creativity

Same-sex couples in Georgia may one day be able to marry in Atlanta and have their marriage recognized by both the state and the federal government, but for now they are often left with very little recognition of their relationships. That could make it extremely easy to end a long-term same-sex relationship, in part because the relationship was never legally recognized, but it also can make it difficult if both partners want to treat each other fairly and with respect. If the couple has children, it could require some creative thinking to set up child custody and support schedules.

Although family law surrounding same-sex relationships is a lot different in Atlanta than it is in states in which domestic partnerships or marriage is recognized, separating couples in Atlanta can still learn a lot from how other states treat same-sex relationships. Take, for instance, the case of a pair of out-of-state lesbian mothers who split after more than a decade together.

Fortunately, the two women easily came up with a child custody and child support agreement. They put aside whatever feelings or emotions that had for each other to come up with the best plan for their children. When it came to dividing their property, however, things were a little more tense.

In the end, the women and their lawyers opted for mediation. Though these women used mediation for only property division, it is not unreasonable for same-sex couples to rely on mediation to also come up with child support agreements. In fact, without the same legal protections that come with marriage, it may be one of the very few ways same-sex couples can create end-of-relationship settlements.

Source: Business Insider, “A Lesbian Couple’s Messy Split Shows how US Divorce Law Has Completely Changed,” Laura Wasser, Oct. 22, 2013

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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