Sometimes Marriage Ends in Divorce

I apologize for the silence last week but I was away on vacation. Today was day one of being back to the work routine. Wow, Mondays can be brutal.

As an attorney, I spend a lot of my time working with lesbian and gay couples. While I was away, I thought a lot about gay marriage.

Before marriage for gay and lesbian couples was legalized in 5 states and the District of Columbia, a handful of states legalized civil unions. In the years that have followed, some of those civil unions and marriages have, unfortunately, failed.

In a recent edition of Edge, contributor Padraic Maroney wrote a piece titled, “With Gay Marriage comes… Gay Divorce.”.

In my law practice, I have heard from a number of lesbians and gays who wish to dissolve their marriages or civil unions. I advise every one of those people that in order to become divorced in Connecticut, they must file an action for dissolution in Superior Court and obtain a judgment of dissolution.

Couples may choose traditional litigation, collaborative divorce or mediation as a means to reaching the final divorce settlement agreement.

I’ve posted here before on the merits of collaborative divorce and the differences in that process in “Collaborative Divorce: Another Way To Dissolve Same-Sex Marriages and Civil Unions.” I’ve also posted on my other blog, Attorney O’s Midnight Musings” on Why I Prefer the Collaborative Divorce Process Over the Traditional Litigated Divorce.

If you are facing divorce, it is important to understand how the decision will impact your life. Divorce can be an emotionally and financially difficult time. Fully preparing for the change of circumstances can make a world of difference.

I will remind gay and lesbian couples who are legally married or united in civil union — and who do NOT live in Connecticut (or another state that recognizes gay marriage) that you cannot simply file for divorce in any state in this country. In Connecticut, for example, at least one party to the marriage or civil union must have been a resident of this state for one year before the divorce action can be filed. That is known as a residency requirement. A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that if they obtained a marriage or civil union in Connecticut, but have never been residents of this state, Connecticut courts will automatically have jurisdiction over your divorce. That is simply not true.

Either way, if you are seeking divorce, be sure to investigate your options. It pays to be prepared.

Collaborative Divorce: Another Way To Dissolve Same-Sex Marriages and Civil Unions

CollaborativeDivorceSame-sex couples seeking to dissolve a marriage or civil union have three basic options: litigation (court-based action), mediation and collaborative divorce. In this post, I will discuss the latter. Collaborative divorce is a process whereby the spouses and their collaboratively-trained lawyers work together, often with the assistance of a neutral financial professional and a coach, to reach a fair divorce agreement.

Unlike traditional court-based divorce (litigation), the participants in a collaborative divorce are empowered to make their own decisions rather than to rely on a judge to do so. The divorcing spouses and their collaborative team work together to form an agreement based upon the individual needs and interests of the couple (and their children, if they have any).

The participants sign an agreement stating that they will not litigate the case in court. They agree to share all information required to facilitate the process and don’t hide information from anyone in the process. If one of the participants breaks the agreement and takes the case to court, the collaborative lawyers and other professionals are discharged from the case and will not participate in the litigation.
Collaborative divorce is usually less expensive than traditional divorce for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, because the process takes place outside the courtroom, the spouses do not incur fees for multiple court battles (which often require hours of waiting around in the hallway waiting for your case to be called). When assets need to be properly valued, the participants work with a neutral financial professional (who is also collaboratively trained). By sharing this professional resource, the participants pay a much lower fee and the process is often expedited.

There is an enormous emotional component to every divorce which can often cause one or both of the spouses to feel considerable anxiety. The collaborative approach recognizes this basic human element and factors it in to the process. When needed, a neutral coach works with the couple to help them with the emotional aspects of difficult issues and helps to promote productive communication.
The participants are represented by separate lawyers who are there to advise them about the complicated legal issues. However, unlike traditional divorce, a lawyer is not there to try to convince a judge to give his or her client exactly what that client wants – without regard for the needs and interests of the couple (and their children). The collaborative lawyer’s job is to refocus the participants on their common goals, which include being able to meet future financial needs, to have well-adjusted children, and to be able to move forward with as little disruption and trauma as possible.

Collaborative divorce may not be suitable for all couples. However, a candid discussion with a collaboratively-trained attorney will help you decide if the process is right for you.
For more information, visit Collaborative Divorce Professionals.