Well, the wait is over. As a result of New Jersey recognizing same sex marriage, some same sex couples will eventually join the ranks of the not-so-happily married and participate in that exhausting experience known as a contested divorce. The playing field is leveled and yet problems persist.
For example, what if a newly-wedded same sex couple had been together for twenty years during which they acquired property and/or one party stayed home by mutual choice? If and when their marriage founders on the shoals of adultery, mental cruelty, desertion or irreconcilable differences, how will the law treat their pre-marital period? Our statutes and cases say that marriage consists of the time period between the wedding date and the date a divorce complaint is filed. The reason why pre-marital cohabitation in opposite sex marriages is not considered in divorce is because the couple could have married. Clearly, no such choice existed for a same sex couple. So, should the twenty years in the above example count in their divorce case? Legal arguments can and will be made on both sides.
We will continue to keep you informed.