It has been over six years since the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, and in September 2020, the U.S. Census reported that approximately 58% of the nation’s nearly one million same-sex partner households are now married. But as same-sex unions have become mainstream and more couples have gotten married and started families, some have inevitably grown apart and ultimately decided to get divorced.
Whether gay or straight, many married relationships do not work out, and sometimes divorce is the only solution. Dissolving a marriage is a complicated process, however, and divorce litigation can be costly and time-consuming. Just the cost for legal representation alone can add up to several thousand dollars, and aside from the financial costs, there is also the heavy emotional toll that a divorce can take on spouses and their families.
Fortunately, divorcing couples have some alternatives to traditional litigation these days. Just as we have progressed as a society in our view of marriage, we have also developed better ways to dissolve a marriage if it does not work out. One of the most preferred ways of doing so is with divorce mediation.
How Divorce Mediation Can Benefit Same-Sex Couples
Divorce mediation is a process in which spouses meet privately with a neutral, third-party mediator to resolve the terms and conditions of their divorce. The sessions are conducted in a cooperative setting, and the spouses are encouraged to work together to come up with solutions that they can both be happy with.
Although the mediator guides the discussion, their role is very different from that of court judges, because they do not have the power to impose anything. In divorce mediation, no resolution can become legally binding unless both spouses agree to it.
Divorce mediation offers several advantages over traditional litigation:
- Affordability: As we talked about earlier, divorce litigation can get very expensive. Mediation can typically be done for a fraction of the cost of going to court.
- Completed on Your Own Time: With divorce litigation, you will need to schedule hearings based on the court’s calendar. And since Covid came on the scene, the courts have fallen way behind, and divorces have been taking significantly longer to complete. With mediation, none of that is a concern to you. You can schedule sessions for whatever times work best for participants.
- Convenient Session Venue Options: In addition to scheduling flexibility, participants have a choice for where to conduct mediation sessions. You can meet at the location that is most convenient for you; or if, for whatever reason, you are not comfortable meeting in person, virtual mediation is also an option.
- Less Stressful: Divorces by their very nature can get heated, and disputes can easily escalate into full-scale conflicts during the midst of a long, drawn-out court battle. With mediation, you have one neutral mediator who is focused on maintaining the peace and helping develop solutions that are a win-win for both parties. When a divorce is settled in this type of environment, it is far less damaging to your relationship with your spouse, and it is also far better for your children (if you have any).
- Flexible and Customizable Process: The family court schedules are always very tight, and they do not have much time to devote to each case. This typically means that you will end up with an impersonal “cookie cutter” solution. With divorce mediation, you and your spouse can take all the time you need to dig into the details of your situation and develop creative solutions that can be customized to fit your needs.
- Private and Confidential Process: Litigated divorces become part of the public record. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, is a private and confidential process. As people like to say about Vegas, what happens in mediation stays in mediation. If you choose mediation, you will never have to worry about your divorce becoming the topic of the latest gossip column.
In addition to the numerous benefits that all divorcing couples can receive through mediation, there is another reason why same-sex couples should consider private divorce mediation, and it has to do with where we are currently as a society. Although we have come a long way in recognizing the rights of same-sex couples, all of this has happened in a relatively short period of time. As an example, same-sex marriage was first recognized in New Jersey in 2013, which was only 8 years ago.
Although the courts are supposed to treat same-sex divorces the same way they would treat a divorce between heterosexual spouses, there is no guarantee that this will occur. There are still many individuals in the legal profession who do not personally view marriage in the same way that the law now recognizes it, and you never know what kind of treatment you (as a divorcing same-sex couple) will receive from the judge that ends up overseeing your case.
As we talked about earlier, divorce mediation is a much different process, and one that allows you to address individual circumstances. One example is the length of the marriage as it relates to property distribution and the possibility of alimony/maintenance.
Since same-sex marriage has only been recognized in New Jersey for 8 years, this would be considered a short-term marriage, which could potentially be a disadvantage for the lower earning spouse. But a mediator who understands that many same-sex couples have been cohabitating for several years before they were even allowed to get married will be able to work with the spouses on a settlement that is fair based on the totality of the circumstances.
Contact AMS to Learn More about LGBTQ Divorce Mediation
At Advanced Mediation Solutions (AMS), we thoroughly understand the unique issues and complexities involved with LGBTQ relationships, and we help divorcing same-sex couples as well as those who are going through a gender transition resolve these issues in a way that best fits their circumstances. When you work with us, you will be treated with dignity and respect just as we do with all of our clients.
To find out more about how we can help you, call us today at (856) 669-7172 or message us online to set up a free consultation.