Poppe & Associates

3 Distinctions of Divorce for Same-Sex Couples

by | Mar 31, 2023 | Alimony, Divorce, Family Law

In 2011, love won for all with the landmark Marriage Equality Act, granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry in the State of New York. Obama signed it into law in all 50 states four years later. And while we hope that everyone lives happily ever after, that isn’t reality. As with heterosexual couples, some unions end up in divorce. If you are in a same-sex marriage and considering divorce, what do you need to know?


The laws for same-sex divorce, also known as LGBTQ+ divorce, are generally the same as those for heterosexual divorce. In most jurisdictions, the legal process and requirements for same-sex divorce are identical to those for opposite-sex divorce.

However, there may be some differences in how certain issues related to divorce are handled depending on the specific laws and regulations that apply in your jurisdiction. For example, in some places, the laws related to spousal support, property division, and child custody may be interpreted differently in cases involving same-sex couples. Here are three distinctions.


Tri-Custody is a legal dispute in which three adult parents are seeking equal custody and access to a child. Tri-custody occurs when the child is being raised in a non-traditional family structure. An example may be that within the married couple’s home, one parent may be the biological parent of the child, the other parent may not be the biological parent of the child, and a third party who oftentimes is a close friend or relative of both parties, is the other biological parent.

In a tri-custody dispute, all three individuals may have an equal claim to the child, and each may seek legal recognition as a parent with the rights and responsibilities that come with that status. This can include the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, the right to spend time with the child, and the obligation to provide financial support for the child.

Tri-custody disputes can be complex and emotionally charged, and they often require careful consideration by the courts to determine the best interests of the child. In some cases, the court may award joint custody to all three parties, while in other cases, the court may award primary custody to one parent and grant visitation rights to the other two.

It’s important to note that the legal landscape around tri-custody disputes is still evolving, and laws related to this issue can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction. Therefore, it’s important to consult with a qualified family law attorney knowledgeable about the specific laws and regulations that apply in your area.


Another area of distinction is social DNA. Social or personal DNA is not a law, but rather the perceived image a same-sex couple may fear in getting a divorce. In most states in this country, same-sex marriages have not been legal for very long. In the State of New York, same-sex marriages have been legal since 2011. And so, amongst the population, same-sex couples are not used to splitting their stuff. That may bring a distinction in the challenges the divorcing couple may face.


And finally, the third distinction is the community burden to avoid stigma. A lot of same-sex couples struggle with getting a divorce for community reasons. They do not want to bring in the stigma that same-sex marriages aren’t as successful as heterosexual marriages.

The New York Times senior opinion writer Jyoti Thottam shared “Gay divorce, it turns out, is as painful as the straight kind, and a lot more complicated.” We believe that divorce for same-sex and heterosexual couples can be amicable if the divorcing parties choose to take that path. Surround yourself with a network of support, seek a qualified therapist to guide you through emotional challenges, and hire an attorney well-versed in same-sex divorce.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation: 646-665-3903.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner