Are Divorce Laws the Same for Gay Couples?

One Question, Three Lawyers

Dear Splitopia: We’re a same-sex couple getting a divorce.  Are there any differences in divorce laws? 

Our Panel Says:

Michael Stutman:  Not in New York, but that is a real state by state issue.




Naomi Cahn:  State laws do not distinguish between couples seeking a divorce based on their gender.





Michele Zavos: Although there are no difference in divorce laws as applied to same-sex or opposite-sex couples, there are potentially many other issues that could affect your divorce.  For example, how long were you together before you got married?  Do you have any agreements as to how you would divide pre-marital property if you ever got divorced?  Do you have children?  Were they born before or after your marriage? 

It is my experience in the LGBT community that when a same-sex couple divorces, divorce law alone is not the sole law that will be involved in the parties’ separation.  Divorce laws, of course, also differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so you should consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction who is familiar with divorce laws and family law affecting the LGBT community.


 About our Panel

Michael Stutman has more than 30 years of family law experience, handling both settlements and court trials.  Michael is immediate past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, New York Chapter. He is also a Fellow of the Academy and serves on its National Board of Governors. Michael is also the author of  Divorce in New York: The Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect (Addicus, 2013). You can contact him at: 

Naomi Cahn is the Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. She is the co-author, along with law professor June Carbone, of Marriage Markets: How Inequality Is Remaking the American Family (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2010) as well as the leading family law textbook Contemporary Family Law. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New Yorker. Find more at:

Michele Zavos is the founding partner at the Zavos Juncker Law Group, PLLC, is a long-time advocate for all kinds of families, both nationally and locally in the Washington metropolitan area. She and her firm have helped craft legislation to protect legal rights for families headed by same-sex couples, won important cases in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and worked with thousands of clients. Find more at:

And now, some legalese:

The information in this blog post is provided for general purposes only. It may not reflect the current law in your county and doesn’t replace legal advice. This post is not intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. No attorney-client relationship has been established by reading the post.