The greatest impact of the dismissal of California’s Prop 8 and the unconstitutional ruling of DOMA will be on divorce. DOMA, short for Defense of Marriage Act, will actually alleviate divorce proceedings for gay couples by making the process more equitable. Additionally, DOMA will allow gay marriages in over 30 non-recognition states, which will catalyze more divorces in those states as well. These predicted divorces of gay couples will have access to the rights that heterosexual couples have when going through a divorce. The uniformity of divorce proceedings will prove to be advantageous for gay couples.
Although California approved martial rights for same-sex couples with domestic partnerships, many couples believe it to be a “second-class status” and refused to register until they were able to obtain a marriage license. With the increase of marriage registration by gay couples, they also inherit the requirement to transfer some of their assets upon divorce. Financial assets will have to be split evenly based on California’s “community property” law. Also, same-sex couples are now able to have their marital dissolution tax exempted. Prior to DOMA, transfers and alimony were potentially taxable, which would have cost much more. Now same-sex couples are able to receive all federal benefits, including tax exemption for transfers upon divorce.
However, couples who are not living in “recognition” states do not get the tax exempts are obtained by same-sex couples in “recognition” states. The reason being is because tax rules are normally deferred to the state laws- they are the ones who decide who is entitled to the exemption. Another setback for same-sex couples is if the couple is in a state-registered domestic partnership/civil union registration. This means that the state is the one who determines the martial laws, including financial allocation during divorce. Federal taxes and retirement plans will most likely not consider the couples as spouses. Beside these few setbacks, the effect that DOMA plays on the nation is substantial for the future.