With the legalization of same sex marriages in Tulsa will come issues of divorce. It is inevitable.
Legally, an Oklahoma same sex divorce is subject to the same laws as divorces between opposite sex partners.
Alimony in an Oklahoma Same Sex Divorce
Alimony can be a sore subject between divorcing spouses. Although Oklahoma courts use a set of calculations with set guidelines for an award of child support, no such set of calculations are used in determining whether to award alimony and if so, how much.
Alimony, or spousal support, is given to help a spouse get back on his or her feet after a divorce. In Oklahoma, its award is based on the circumstances of the divorcing partners and the court has wide discretion in whether to award it, how much to award, and for how long.
Alimony, whether given in an Oklahoma same sex divorce or an opposite sex divorce in Tulsa, is based a number of factors. The court may look at the income of both partners, the earning capacity of both partners, whether real need exists, the other spouse’s ability to pay, and the length of the marriage.
Perceptions: Let’s Take a Look at John and Tony
There is a perception that couples in same sex marriages have a greater level of disposable income. If both are working for the entirety of the marriage, there may be a reduced need for alimony unless there is a great disparity between income levels. But that may not always be the case.
For example, John and Tony have been married for two years. John is a partner an accounting firm and Tony is a teacher. John makes $200,000 annually and Tony makes $40,000 a year. Both have continued working during the duration of the marriage. They now are pursuing an Oklahoma same sex divorce.
Since Tony has a steady income, and the marriage was short, the court may be less inclined to award alimony to Tony. However, the court may award some degree of alimony for a short time to Tony based on the income disparity, to allow Tony time to adjust to the lack of John’s income upon divorce.
What is not clear is whether a court will be inclined to look to any time the couple was partnered before they were able to marry in making its determination regarding alimony. Let’s look at John and Tony again.
John and Tony lived together as partners for 15 years before same sex marriage was made legal. They married and are now divorcing two years later.
It is unclear at present whether the court will look to the 15-year period before the legalized marriage took place. Because same sex marriage is relatively new, shorter marriages may mitigate in favor of fewer alimony awards in same sex divorces. This will undoubtedly change over time.
Now let’s change the scenario again. John and Tony have been married for two years, and partnered for 15 years before that. They have two children, ages seven and nine.
Rather than working full-time, Tony quit his job to take care of the children. He has not worked in nine years.
Certainly Tony’s need is greater here and John has the ability to pay. It is likely that the court will award Tony some degree of alimony to allow time for Tony to go back to work.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Divorce Attorney
An Oklahoma same sex divorce can be a complicated matter. Hiring an experienced Tulsa divorce attorney is critical to make sure that the court is made aware of all the facts regarding your case.
Call the Divorce Law Office of Tulsa today at 918-924-5526 to make an appointment for your free consultation.