Barbara Rothberg, DSW, LCSW

Therapy, Coaching, Mediation and Parent Coordination


Same Sex Divorce

17 June, 2015 Barbara Rothberg DIVORCE

S ame sex marriage is becoming increasingly more accepted in our society, and with marriage comes divorce.



Winning the right to marry is 37 states and are anticipating that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of acceptance of marriage equality, which will end discrimination, makes same sex marriage acceptable. Increasingly, gay and lesbian couples are getting married….and with marriage, comes divorce.

Since same-sex marriage is relatively new, same-sex divorce is even newer. There is little research on the topic, but the last statistic published says that there are about half the number of gay divorces as compared to straight divorces. But I suspect that is because many of the same sex couples who married are long term stable couples that have been together for many years. When newer gay couples marry (1-2 year relationships), my guess is that the divorce rate will be similar.

So, how is a gay divorce different from a straight divorce? Well, in many ways, it’s not, especially if the divorce is in a state where marriage is legal. One major difference is that some couples who divorce have been married for a few years, but possibly together for 20 years prior to marriage. It is arguable as to how assets get handled in those situations. And if there are children, it is relevant whether second parent adoptions were done prior to marriage. Many other legal issues are similar.

There are some big differences, emotionally and socially, which are important. The main difference is that being gay or lesbian is still “other” in much of our society. For example, how much of a support system does the divorcing couple have? Are their family and friends supportive? Are they out at work? Do they have children? What are the expectations of the parents?  There is frequently a level of jealousy and competition between same sex parents in a way that is absent in heterosexual relationships.  It is common in same sex relationships, especially with women, to remain close friends with one another after divorce, which is generally not the case in the straight world. This can lead to many issues in new relationships.

Recognizing the differences, it can be very helpful for same-sex couples to work with like minded professionals who can understand their situations both from a professional as a well as a personal perspective.