When the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged marriage equality as the law of the land, surely most Americans understood that Obergefell v. Hodges would change LGBTQ breakups, too. But as one writer points out, only slowly did some come to appreciate the meaning of divorce equality.
While every divorcing couple has unique needs, the laws and legal procedures, rights and responsibilities of divorce are the same no matter the genders of the people ending their legal marriage.
Illinois divorce basics know no gender
In Illinois, LGBTQ couples can choose a “no-fault” divorce, meaning that nobody has to give the court any “grounds for divorce,” other than saying the marriage isn’t working and cannot be repaired.
In deciding the division of assets and maintenance (often known as alimony) for LGBTQ couples, fault is not considered. Instead, the court considers factors such as each spouse’s needs and earning potential. In deciding custody issues for LGBTQ couples with children, the court considers only the best interest of the child.
These and all the other rules and procedures of divorce are the same for straight couples in the Land of Lincoln.
Author takes pride in all the uninteresting legalities
Steven Petrow writes in The Atlantic that his friends, straight and LGBTQ alike, assumed that at least something would be different for the newcomers to legal marriage. He writes, “Same institution. Same benefits. Same penalties.”
Petrow’s own divorce got contentious and complicated, but they hired attorneys to help split up their assets according to the law. They had no children, so they fought over their dog.
But every plodding step of the process was a reminder that the state had always fully recognized their marriage. He writes, “Our divorce, I think, did as much as to legitimize marriage equality as our wedding.”
Feeling proud of finally achieving the freedom to marry came naturally to Petrow, he writes, but pride in the freedom to divorce took a little extra life experience.