Ending Same-Sex Relationships in NJ?

Divorce Law
same sex marriage

According to a recent article in the Independent, a new study by the British government reveals some startling findings about divorce rates between gay and lesbian couples in the U.K.

Since civil unions became legal there in 2007, nearly twice as many lesbians have sought divorce as gay men. Moreover, the number of same-sex civil unions that ended last year is up 20% over the year prior.

There are probably reasons for these trends that have nothing to do with gender preference, though some of them may have to do with gender. The article notes that, in general, women tend to commit to relationships sooner, and are more prone to marry than men. Also, women generally tend to marry younger, and the likelihood of any marriage’s survival decreases in proportion to the youth of the couple. There is also data indicating that women are more likely to initiate a divorce than men. In many ways, the trends in gay and lesbian marriage are merely reflecting broader trends in the population at large.

There are all sorts of indicators that you’re more likely to divorce, many of which have nothing to do with either gender or gender preference. For instance, you’re more likely to divorce if you: come from a low socio-economic background; marry at age 25 or younger; have parents that are divorced; are a non-smoker while your partner is a smoker; have already been married before; lived together before you were married; or knew each other less than two years before your marriage.

The oft-stated assertion that half of all marriages end in divorce is a myth, probably based on the fact that there are half as many divorces as there are marriages in any given year. Recent studies indicate that somewhere between 12% to 34% of all marriages have ended in divorce (that’s a pretty broad range, but the actual figures are surprisingly difficult to pin down).  If you compare the rates of divorce among gays and lesbians (3.2 % and 6.1% respectively) with that of the rest of the population, same-sex couples so far have a much better marriage success rate.

Give them time. The simple fact is that, as same-sex unions become more common, so too will same-sex divorces. That doesn’t indicate a reversal of a social trend, nor is it a sign that civil unions are inherently less stable than traditional marriages.

The announcement that the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop is seeking divorce from his partner of 25 years brought a lot of attention to the issue recently. This is of course because Bishop Robinson is a public figure of some prominence whom many might consider pivotal in the struggle to achieve public recognition and support for same-sex unions. It is always shocking when someone who may be seen as a role model embodying a greater social movement has to step down from that role. That he is also a man of the cloth only serves to make the case more sensational.

But the broader truth is that human compatibility is far more complex than just gender preferences. So too, are the legal complications that arise at the end of any legally acknowledged relationship.

In 2004, the state of New Jersey granted same-sex couples domestic partnership rights that were similar to those that married couples enjoy but did not include joint property ownership or debt responsibility. In 2007 Civil Unions were created after the New Jersey Supreme Court decision Lewis v. Harris which conferred upon couples similar rights enjoyed by married couples in the state. The major difference is that the state cannot confer any federal rights pertaining to marriage to those in civil unions. In 2013, with the New Jersey Supreme Court Decision Garden State Equality v. Dow, New Jersey granted same-sex marriage the same as marriage for opposite-sex couples.

If you are a partner in a same-sex couple contemplating divorce or the termination of a civil union or domestic partnership in New Jersey, you should definitely seek out legal assistance and advice, as there may be legal issues specific to your case that may have a significant bearing on the outcome of your divorce. As advocates and friends to gay New Jerseyans, the Law Offices of Lynda L. Hinkle are ready and able to help you navigate this difficult process.

For a free consultation call us at (856) 227-7888, or contact us at [email protected].We have locations in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, and are happy to discuss your legal options.

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