As this blog has noted in prior posts, when Minnesota began legally recognizing same-sex marriages on August 1, it also began recognizing same-sex divorce. At least one Minnesota resident has already taken advantage of this development, filing for divorce from a partner who left her three years ago.
The couple were married in Canada in 2004, but lived in Minnesota, where they owned a home and raised a son, now 7-years-old. When the couple split up, they made a verbal agreement about who would keep the home, but because the state did not legally recognize their marriage, they could not avail themselves of Minnesota courts for purposes of property division or alimony.
Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance, is a payment or series of payments to help one ex-spouse until he or she can become financially independent. For example, when one spouse gave up working outside the home in order to take care of children or manage the household while the other pursued a lucrative career, courts might order temporary maintenance until the spouse who stayed at home can start building an independent career.
In the past, alimony was routinely paid by a man to an ex-wife, but as gender roles have changed in the workplace, alimony has changed as well. Now, there are many women who pay alimony to men. Likewise, there is no reason why the legal remedy could not apply to same-sex couples as well.
Spousal support is just one of many factors to consider when Minnesota residents are contemplating divorce. Whether they are ending a same-sex marriage or a heterosexual one, Minnesota residents considering divorce should get help understanding their legal options.
Source: CBS Minnesota, "MN Now Has One Of Its First Same-Sex Divorces," Aristea Brady, Aug. 6, 2013