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“LGBTQ cou­ples may be sur­prised by the for­mal­ity of the di­vorce process,” Col­lard said. Be­fore 2015, “un­less the cou­ple were the par­ents of chil­dren, there was no in­ter­ven­tion by a fam­ily court judge — no al­imony and no divi­sion of re­tire­ment ac­counts or other prop­erty.”

Post-Oberge­fell, LGBTQ cou­ples stand on new ground.

“We’ve gone from in­for­mal to hy­per-for­mal and it has taken gay peo­ple some time to ac­cli­mate to this new suite of rights and obli­ga­tions,” he said. “Be­fore Oberge­fell, cou­ples who had gone out of state to get mar­ried were not con­sid­ered mar­ried in Ge­or­gia.”

“With Oberge­fell,” Col­lard con­tin­ued, “cou­ples who had al­ready sep­a­rated af­ter their out-of-state mar­riage sud­denly found them­selves need­ing a for­mal di­vorce. It caught a lot of cou­ples off guard.”

Re­gard­ing do’s, Col­lard had this ad­vice: “The LGBTQ com­mu­nity has its own cus­toms, tra­di­tions and sen­si­bil­i­ties. And for cen­turies those did not in­clude mar­riage equal­ity.”

The at­tor­ney also urged LGTBQ cou­ples to keep an open mind, and have pa­tience with the mem­bers of the court, “as they con­tinue to get to know us.” Col­lard said that he had “found that the courts have been very wel­com­ing to my clients. Re­gard­less of the pol­i­tics of the is­sue, I think that most judges were very happy to see this ex­pan­sion of civil rights. We’ve been mak­ing our own rules around long-term re­la­tion­ships for so long, we need to be pa­tient in this tran­si­tion into mar­riage and di­vorce equal­ity. Tell your whole story.”

Re­gard­ing don’ts, Col­lard urged sep­a­rat­ing LGTBQ cou­ples to not “be afraid to take ad­van­tage of ev­ery right that Oberge­fell grants you. As a citizen who is mar­ried in a na­tion with full mar­riage (and di­vorce) equal­ity, don’t be timid about telling your at­tor­ney that you want a divi­sion of prop­erty, and po­ten­tially al­imony, just like any other di­vorc­ing cou­ple.”

He said that cou­ples shouldn’t be afraid to seek out a gay fam­ily law at­tor­ney, if that would make them more com­fort­able.

“But keep in mind, we have many straight al­lies who would be very happy to help,” he said.

Col­lard said that “break-ups have be­come a lot more for­mal, and many cou­ples had not planned for the divi­sion of prop­erty or al­imony that comes with di­vorce. So, there’s been a cer­tain ad­just­ment pe­riod that is still in progress.”

Re­flect­ing on the post-Oberge­fell world, Col­lard noted that, “With mar­riage equal­ity im­me­di­ately came gay peo­ple get­ting di­vorced. It was like watch­ing our com­mu­nity spread its le­gal wings. Many gay peo­ple, though hope­ful, did not ex­pect mar­riage equal­ity to hap­pen when it did. It was a huge step on a large con­tin­uum of rights.”

“Now,” Col­lard said, “the fight con­tin­ues, for pro­tec­tions against discrimination in health­care, hous­ing, em­ploy­ment and many other ar­eas.”

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