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Mary Kay Kramer, P.C. Attorney at Law
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Same-sex divorce involves man who did not know he was married

In Colorado and across the nation, the relatively new law where people of the same sex can get married has often led to confusion regarding how the difference in the law impacts people in various circumstances. One issue that could be complex is when people had a commitment ceremony before they were legally allowed to marry. For those who do not believe they were married, it can come as a surprise when they are considered married based on the new law. When this or any other issue arises with same-sex family law, having legal assistance from a law firm that understands all aspects of these cases is imperative.

A man who took part in a 2003 commitment ceremony - more than a decade before it was legal for same-sex couples to marry - has discovered that he was indeed married to his then-boyfriend. The man's former partner filed a complaint seeking spousal support. The man subsequently lost significant assets due to the settlement. He was unaware that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage made commitment ceremonies that took place before the ruling tantamount to getting married with all the legal obligations that accompany it.

The man says that he and his former husband were involved in a normal relationship and wanted to commemorate it with a ceremony. It was referred to as a commitment ceremony. He had reservations about it, but because it was not legal for same-sex couples to marry, he did not believe it would be a danger to his financial future. They were together as a couple, split, and reunited. He provided financial support as they lived together even though they were having problems. When they broke up permanently in December 2017, the other man filed a lawsuit. Although they did not file taxes jointly and did not own any property together, the judge decided that the commitment ceremony was a marriage and if they were parting ways, a divorce was required. The other man was granted spousal support for four years.

Since same-sex marriage and same-sex divorce is relatively new, it can be somewhat confusing for people who are not fully aware of what the law says about their situation and when the marriage came about. For people who are ending a relationship and might be legally married, it is vital to have legal assistance from a law firm that specializes in same-sex family law to determine such issues a spousal support, property division and child custody.

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