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Spousal support for same-sex couples?

There is no getting around the fact that there are a large number of same-sex relationships in Philadelphia. And with New Jersey right across the river, many of the people in these couples are legally married. While a handful of states and the federal government recognizes these marriages, Pennsylvania does not. What that also means is that it is unlikely that any Pennsylvania couple who wished to divorce would be unable to do so. While it may not seem like that big of a deal to not be able to divorce, especially when the state doesn't even recognize the marriage, it is for those who are stuck in limbo.

Take, for example, those individuals who would be able to get spousal support if their marriage was recognized by the state. Sometimes couples don't earn the same amount of money, or one spouse put his or her career on hold to run the home. If these spouses were in a different-sex marriage and they divorced, they would likely be able to get spousal support to help transition them to a single income.

Since same-sex couples can't rely on spousal support, the spouse who stayed at home will be dependent on finding a job. For individuals who have been away from the job market for a considerable time, it may be impossible to re-enter the same field. For others, they may be far below where their former peers are at now. Had they access to spousal support, they would at least be able to supplement their income.

Whether Pennsylvania will one day recognize same-sex marriages and grant same-sex couples divorces remains to be seen; for now, couples will need to rely on alternative methods of family law to protect their rights.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Right to Gay Divorce," Lara Lillibridge, April 9, 2014

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