With the recent U.S. Supreme-Court ruling on Proposition 8 and same-sex marriages taking place in California in less than a month, how can we expect divorce rates to be affected? Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, NBC Chicago shows that states that allow gay marriage display a 20% lower divorce rate on average than those that ban it. Is the correlation between the two direct? What other socio-economic factors might contribute to this trend?
Although the divorce rates appear lower in these states, the relatively new implementation of same sex marriage and the non-uniformity of its acceptance across the United states makes divorcing these marriages an even more strenuous task than usual. Separating these unions present problems that can result in much higher legal fees and only a small group of lawyers that are familiar with the intricacies of the process. Issues arise for couples who wed in a state that permits same-sex marriage, then move to a state that does not and later attempt to divorce. Custody battles over children who are not biologically linked to a parent become increasingly difficult to handle and a drawn out dispute for these same sex couples over custody could potentially lead to 100,000$ in legal fees says Randall Kessler in a recent CNN Money article. The common law system used in the United States is based on legal precedent and until case law develops for these situations, the process of divorcing a same-sex marriage will prove to be a complicated affair.
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