Most people who find out their spouse is gay think they’re facing a unique situation — but, realistically speaking, there are a lot of LGBT+ people who have gone the traditional way of marriage and starting families. Many of them are near retirement age and got married when the world was a less tolerant place.
While each situation is different, in my practice, divorces where one spouse is gay tend to be more amicable as an overall generalization, with there being some highly contentious ones every now and again. There’s oftentimes already a deep attachment and an understanding in place that they were never going to have a conventional marriage. They created a different kind of life together, and now they have to untangle it.
That mutual respect is why so many couples like this are more inclined to mediate their divorces. In many of my cases, the person who is not gay is attached to the one that is, and the person that is gay usually does not want to be harsh. I have also had experiences where the couple tries initially to mediate, or resolve the situation amicably, and they end up litigating. That can happen for a number of reasons, including the non-adversarial setting of mediation, which has been known to make financial manipulation more likely to occur.
Within the various religions, one party being gay may present seemingly unsolvable problems in a divorce. Oftentimes, religions bring with them a culture that involves every member of a multi-generational family. Some religious communities have their own systems of dealing with marriages and divorces. Information that is private in the secular world is everyone’s business in small communities. Because of that, couples may work out an agreement in which they are divorced in everything but name — unless the parties are completely willing to be open and potentially jeopardize some of the relationships with their family members, including parents, siblings, uncles still moored in more traditional and less accepting dogmas.
In many of these cases, the non-gay spouse did have suspicions over the years that their spouse might be gay. A lot of times, it was chalked up to depression, the gay spouse exhibiting behaviors such as being withdrawn, detached, and lack of interest in sexual encounters with their spouse. The reality is the gay spouse is often depressed if they feel trapped in a marriage with someone of the “wrong” sex who they lack sexual interest in and are often conflicted about how to handle their situation — do they stay out of a sense of loyalty to their family or do they go out of a sense of loyalty to their true innate nature. So, for many, getting that divorce is important to their continuing mental health.
To get started, contact me.
Cheryl Stein, Esq.
The Law and Mediation Offices of Cheryl Stein
745 Fifth Avenue, Suite 500
New York, NY 10151
Phone: (646) 884-2324