Same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015, when the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Obergefell v. Hodges effectively struck down all state bans on the practice and made gay marriage legal across the land. This represented a broadening of laws that had already passed in several states, as well as in several countries around the world. With same-sex marriage now more broadly available, new questions arise about how it might change marriage associated practices, including the divorce rate, adoption, and more, and it is likely that there will be a great deal of research into statistical differences between different types of couples. Those studies had already begun to be conducted in countries where marriage equality was already the law, including in the United Kingdom where a new study conducted by the Office for National Statistics has found that marriage between lesbians was more likely to end in divorce than marriages between homosexual men.

The United Kingdom made same-sex marriage legal in 2014, just 15 months before the United States. As was true in the U.S., passage of the law resulted in a rush to marriage, with over 1,400 couples marrying within three months of the new law’s passage. The majority of those unions were between lesbians, and almost immediately after getting married, the same-sex marriages began falling apart. One year after getting married 22 couples had divorced and two years later another 90 had split up, bringing the total to 112. An astonishing 77% of the divorcing couples were women.

It is unclear as to why the lesbian couples in this and other studies have gotten divorced at a higher rate than has been true of homosexual males: the top reason given for splitting was “unreasonable behavior,” which is the UK’s version of irreconcilable differences. Some sociologists have posited the notion that the women rushed into marriage with higher expectations and a greater sense of romance about the union than the more clear-eyed approach that the men had taken, but that theory has raised some eyebrows and objections. In Britain, lesbian couples were found to break up twice as frequently as gay men even before same-sex marriage became legal. A similar trend appeared in a study conducted on civil partnerships in Norway, Sweden and Denmark by researchers at Stockholm University.

It is interesting to note that even in heterosexual marriages, women are more likely to initiate a divorce than men are, and that may provide the most significant clue of all as to why the divorce rates are higher for lesbians than for gay men. Women may simply demand more from the relationship, or be quicker to acknowledge when it is no longer working.

Whatever the reason, if you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate through the challenges of ending your marriage, we can help. Contact our office today to set up a time to meet.

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