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Spousal Support in Same-Sex Divorce

Statistics suggest that the boom in gay and lesbian marriages since the Marriage Equality Act became law in 2011 is likely to be followed by a boom in divorce. It is important to understand and appreciate the financial implications of same-sex divorce. Marriage traditionally created a legal obligation upon a husband to support his wife, based on the assumption that the husband is better equipped to earn income. A divorce does not necessarily end this obligation, and an ex-husband can be required to provide maintenance to his ex-wife. However, same-sex marriage and modern living challenge these assumptions.

When is spousal support required after same-sex divorce?

Under New York divorce law, the Family Court has discretion to order a spouse to make temporary spousal maintenance payments while the divorce is finalized. In this regard, the law does not differentiate between heterosexual couples or same-sex couples. Decisions concerning permanent orders for spousal support are made by the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The decision of the court is based on the financial conditions of the two parties, with the aim of ensuring that a spouse is able to enjoy the same financial conditions that they enjoyed during the marriage. Alternatively, an agreement concerning spousal support can be reached through negotiation between the parties.

Are there tax implications?

If you agree to spousal maintenance, or the court orders it, it is important to be aware that federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage or divorce, which means that spousal support payments are not tax deductible on your federal taxes. Same-sex divorce can have other negative tax and financial consequences due to the status of same-sex divorce under federal law, but a lawyer can help devise strategies to minimize the impact on your position. For more information on the financial implications of same-sex divorce, make an appointment with a supportive Nassau County same-sex divorce attorney.

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