Late last week, when most of us were still focused on relaxing vacations and holiday-related festivities, a high-profile couple began to put their high profile divorce in motion: according to numerous press reports, actress Sara Gilbert filed to legally separate from her wife, the musician and songwriter Linda Perry. The cause was, as is the case in many Los Angeles divorces, irreconcilable differences.
When gay marriage was first legalized in New York, I was asked many, many questions about how same-sex divorce would differ from traditional divorces. The answer is simple: divorce is divorce is divorce. The key difference is that many same-sex couples enter into marriage without imagining they'll ever get divorced...so, when those relationships inevitably break-up, their divorces can be more complicated than they would typically have been otherwise, in marriages with what are arguably more realistic expectations.
With that in mind, my advice to same-sex couples applies to every couple that's getting married: plan ahead. See an experienced divorced lawyer. Think about issues like equitable distribution, support, child custody, pet custody, and division of property ahead of time, in case the marriage ends. If you are able to, sign a prenuptial agreement. And--if a divorce happens without that planning--work with a matrimonial attorney who can help you get a successful divorce settlement. That applies to everyone, including high-profile individuals, high-net worth individuals, people of modest means, and both straight and same-sex couples.