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How DOMA Changes Same Sex Divorce

How DOMA Changes Same Sex Divorce

Same Sex Divorce

When the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, it changed many things for same-sex couples. While DOMA being struck down offered some new benefits for those in a same-sex marriage, such as family leave and disability payments, it also had significant ramifications for those who are seeking same sex divorce.

Social Security Changes

Since Massachusetts was the first place to legalize gay marriage, in 2003, many couples who were married at the time and are now going through a divorce may have to consider the impact on social security benefits. The SS Administration allows divorced spouses who have been married at least ten years to supplement their own social security by "tapping" into their spouses earnings. While this does not reduce the amount of benefits the higher-earning spouse gets, it may result in changes to alimony payments that might be payable.

Retirement Accounts

Because DOMA was the law of the land, even in states where marriage was legal, division of retirement accounts was a costly problem for tax purposes. With the new ruling, splitting retirement accounts should no longer carry the previous tax burden.

Tax Changes

In prior years, DOMA did not allow a same sex parent who was paying support to claim the expense. The other parent was also getting this income "tax free" on a federal level since there was no method for the parent filing "head of household" or other tax relief. Fortunately, in August of 2013, this changed as well since the IRS ruled on this matter.

What Does Not Change

Unfortunately, Massachusetts same sex couples who have left the state and no longer meet the residency requirements for divorce in Massachusetts may still run into problems. This is because there are still more than 30 states that do not recognize same sex unions and will not allow couples to file for divorce. This may result in same sex couples returning to Massachusetts to complete a divorce filing.

If you are involved in a same sex marriage and need help filing for divorce, the changes in DOMA may mean there are some items that will change with your individual case. For help with your divorce, contact the Law Office of Robert Kovacs. We understand the stress you are under and we also understand how the changes in DOMA applies to same sex couples in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.