Tricky same-sex divorce case highlights issues with system

Same-sex couples often endure a very different divorce process than their heterosexual counterparts -- and as unfortunate as that is, same-sex couples need to be prepared for it so that they can appropriately address it. For example, matters of asset and property division can be made complex simply because the laws and rules that govern same-sexdivorce are not well established (or practiced) yet.

Take the following story as an example: a lesbian couple filed for divorce. They already had child custody and support worked out before heading to trial over some complicated money issues. The way they conceived their children is of particular import, though.

The two women used the same sperm donor, so that their children would have one "father." One woman was impregnated after the other woman donated her egg for the process. For their second child, they switched roles.

Now, when they went before a court to handle the financial issues involved in their divorce (remember, child custody and support was already agree to), the judge handling their case was dumbfounded by their "lifestyle." He was an older person who likely had little experience with same-sex couples, and he openly made their sexual orientation a focal point of his struggles with the case. The lawyers and the two women were understandably offended by the judge's total lack of tact.

Ultimately the women chose to drop their case and enter mediation because they did not want someone with biased tendencies making a major life decision for them. The bias they faced likely would not have happened to a heterosexual couple -- and herein lies the issue for same-sex couples. They not only have to struggle with the actual issues involved in their divorce, but they have to struggle with an inadequate system too.

Source: St. Martin's Press, "A Lesbian Couple's Messy Split Shows How US Divorce Law Has Completely Changed," Laura Wasser, Oct. 22, 2013