For more than five years, same-sex couples have had the right to marry in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
And as part of that legislation, the Commonwealth declared that these marriages be treated exactly like heterosexual marriages.
Unfortunately, a large number of these marriages are ending the same way as well – in divorce.
The Commonwealth did the right thing though – they gave same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples for divorce proceedings.
But two very important things impact the 11,000 or so same-sex marriages that have occurred in Massachusetts since 2004.
- The Federal Government doesn’t recognize the same-sex marriages
- For those who just visited Massachusetts to get married, it’s almost impossible to get divorced in your home state. The only way to get a same-sex divorce is if your home state also recognizes same-sex marriages.
The Federal Government utilizes the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
So for same-sex couples, the IRS implications are severe. For instance, heterosexual couples can utilize a tax deduction for alimony payments – same-sex couples cannot.
And as far as retirement and pension plans go, heterosexual couples can easily split-up these plans with no penalties, while same-sex couples have to cash them out as a result of a divorce, and are taxed at a ridiculously high rate.
For those that visited Massachusetts to get married, there a number of restrictions that applies to your marriage, including residency restrictions to qualify for divorce.
That’s why I strongly recommend cohabitation agreements and estate planning strategies for my clients because they stipulate what happens to personal property and assets in the event of a split. And because they are a contract, they are treated as such – no matter what state you live in.
If you were married in the commonwealth of Massachusetts as a same-sex couple, and you’re considering a divorce, I urge you to do a bit of pre-planning.
If you do not, your divorce, which is already a difficult situation, will get progressively worse.
If you are a Massachusetts resident or an out-of-state couple that is considering a same-sex divorce and want professional assistance in protecting what you’ve earned over the years, call me at (617) 273-5110 to discuss your particular situation. If you prefer, you can email me by clicking here: .
For more information on issues affecting same-sex couples, see my blog page for more resources.