Did you know that there are now eleven (11) states across our union that have fully legalized same-sex marriage?  And – the United States Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear two very important test cases regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8 in California.  This all seems highly likely to result in even more same-sex couples marrying, and then divorcing.

Thus, it is important to understand that although the gay marriage laws in the U.S. change from state to state, divorce remains the same.  So it might be a good idea for any couples out there who are contemplating same-sex marriage to remember to do a few things first.  After all, prevention is the best medicine.

The five helpful tips for same-sex couples who want to marry are:

(1)  You might want to first think about generating a prenuptial agreement that would act to define any and all rights for both parties in case of divorce or death.  This could help keep both of you out of court to resolve property and other issues, regardless of whether that state recognizes same-sex marriages or not.

(2)  Make yourself aware of the recent state of the law regarding marriages in your state.  If you and your partner are planning on moving to another state after your marriage, then you’re going to want to know the marriage laws of that state as well.  There might be obstacles to what you’re trying to accomplish.  No two state’s laws are exactly the same, so you need to do your homework.

(3)  Find out whether the laws on child custody in your new state will somehow impact your rights to have access to your child in case of divorce if only one parent is the natural parent or if only one parent adopts the child.  Any future visitation and/or custody rights between you and your child could prove dependent upon such laws.

Remember that even though some of the states allow for same-sex marriages, while others offer civil unions or domestic partnerships, more than half of the U.S. does not allow same-sex marriage.  And most of these states don’t even recognize legal unions that might be recognized elsewhere.

(4)  Should you and your spouse move to a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, yet the relationship fails, then you should take the diligent precautions necessary to prepare for your divorce.  Conduct the appropriate research to find a respected family law attorney who fulfills your specific needs.  Expertise, experience, and reputation within the community are critical attributes for any good family law attorney.

In preparation for any potential relationship split, do whatever is necessary to secure all your financial records.  Make copies of anything you might consider important to your divorce.  Covering all income, expenses, assets, and debts could be crucial to saving time and money during the division of any property.  Your lawyer will thank you for doing this.  Also, make sure to preserve any cohabitation or other written agreements that may be used to prove your legal intentions.

(5)  It might also be a good idea to agree to the rights of both parties regarding visitation and/custody should any children be born or adopted into the relationship.  You’ll want to keep track of the amount of time you spend on your own with the child.  Make a diary of all that you have done for the child; any contributions or decisions you have been involved in on their behalf.  In some states, this could prove handy when seeking visitation or custody rights with the child.

In all, divorce is never an easy process.  Same-sex couples, like all couples, need to do the research before marrying and before filing for divorce.  This promises to help reduce the stress and expense that such a family law battle would most surely produce in family law court in any state.