Divorce rights depend on marriage rights

Family law policies regarding issues like child custody and property division are in place to hold both parties responsible for their financial and familial obligations. In the state of Utah, and across the country, divorce mediation is also an important part of ensuring that children are protected as couples legally end their marriage. However, such family law measures can only be taken if and when divorce is filed. That leaves out thousands of couples and families around the U.S., since many relationships are not recognized on the state or federal level. Countless traditional and nontraditional families alike could be affected by the legalization of same-sex marriage as it would update family law legislation for everyone.

The end of a relationship can only be legally recognized if it is first considered to be a legitimate union. Right now, civil unions are acknowledged on a state-by-state basis. For those same-sex couples that are protected under the law in one state, there is always the possibility that their rights may be forfeited in another state. Therefore, civil unions can only be dissolved in states that recognize them.

These types of variations in the law do not serve in the best interest of many families because access to mediation services is essentially denied. Child custody, visitation and support arrangements cannot be made and couples do not have the opportunity to divide assets or settle spousal support disputes.

If marriage equality is granted on a federal level, everyone will be subject to the same family law measures. Both traditional and nontraditional families alike could seek divorce mediation and other resources, protecting the interest of couples and their children in the process.   

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