It has been common and expected that when a woman is receiving alimony payments from her ex-husband, he will no longer have to pay spousal support when she becomes engaged to another man. However, when that same woman instead becomes engaged to another woman, courts have ruled that the man must continue his spousal support payments in Virginia; that is, until a recent decision reversed this ruling.
Now that a gay couple can be legally considered to have a relationship that is “analogous” to marriage, once they have been in the same residence for one year, the ex-spouse no longer has to pay alimony. Gay marriage was legalized in Virginia in 2014 and has since become the first appellate to interpret the word marriage in a statute.
In the case, the two divorcing spouses signed an agreement that the man would pay his ex-wife monthly support payments for eight years or until she cohabitated with another person for at least a year. After his ex-wife had lived with her female fiancée for over one year and had become engaged, he sought to end his payments. Now-retired Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Charles Maxfield ruled that the Constitution may recognize same-sex marriage, but it has nothing to do with the termination of spousal support and ordered him to continue to pay.
The ex-husband appealed the ruling and was told by Judge Rossie D. Alston Jr., during the ruling at the Appeals Court, that no court had interpreted the phrase cohabitation in that manner and it did not apply to same-sex relationships. Upon appealing again, Judge Mims ruled in his favor on the matter, noting the phrase “of the opposite sex” had been omitted from the law back in 1997 and, with the new ruling on same-sex marriage, should be treated equally. Mims wrote that “an individual who has entered a committed, financially interdependent relationship with a third person is no longer dependent upon his or her ex-spouse in the same manner as when the agreement was executed.”
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Advocate for Equal Treatment in All Marriages and Divorce Proceedings
Sexual orientation should not be a factor in how a divorce is handled, nor should it change how someone is viewed or treated. Our team of Towson divorce lawyers represent clients in LGBT family law cases with a purposeful goal of ensuring that no one is discriminated against while trying to find the best solutions for their family. Contact us online or call 443-589-0150 today to talk to one of our legal representatives at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC to find out how we can put our experience to work for you. With offices in Hunt Valley, Pikesville, and Towson, we proudly serve our clients throughout Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County, and Howard County, including the towns of Towson, Essex, Columbia, and Bel Air.