While same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue around the world, gays and lesbians continue to partner up and experience love just like straight people. When long-term same-sex couples who have not had the benefit of being legally married break up, it creates a host of problems that would not exist if they had been able to marry.
Because unwed couples do not share their assets, long-term same-sex relationships that end can be complicated to sort through. Legally, each member is only entitled to their personal assets and what they each brought into the relationship. In legally married couples, the process of asset division is one of the primary contentions if and when they divorce. This is not possible for unmarried gay couples, leaving them unable to equitably divide the assets they’ve accrued through the course of their relationship equally in court.
Gay couples often have children through surrogates or adoption. If the relationship ends, getting custody of the child or any parenting rights can be incredibly complicated for the non-biological parent, even if he or she was responsible for most of the parenting. This would rarely be the case through a traditional divorce.
New Jersey allows for civil unions and recognizes the same-sex unions of other states, dampening the complexity of these sorts of breakups. However, in the states that do not allow same-sex unions, the end of a long-term relationships can be incredibly messy and there is no protection for the individual who was not the breadwinner as there would be in a divorce.