Ever have liquid nitrogen thrown in your face? Surprisingly, you can survive, though we don’t recommend the trick. The cold reality of being in an ill-fitting marriage is a bit like a shot of liquid nitrogen to the face. This egregious epiphany can come through many avenues: affairs; substance abuse; incompatibility. Perhaps the harshest hit is from the realization that you, a Virginia man, are a homosexual trapped in a heterosexual marriage.
Why Marry a Woman if You’re Gay?
Some homosexual men sometimes marry heterosexual women for the cover this provides. Virginia society is not noted for its advanced views of social justice and progressive tendencies, so such cover is a natural refuge for the man who needs normalcy.
The hidden hurt such an arrangement covers over, though, comes back aggressively when divorce, child custody and visitation issues arise. To be clear, we are not discussing the issue of same-sex marriage, which is legal in all states after the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision. We are considering only the cases of gay men who marry straight women, for many reasons.
Some gay men truly do not look inside themselves to know they are gay until confronted by the disconnect of white picket fence syndrome.
White Picket Fence Syndrome
White Picket Fence Syndrome describes, as Urban Dictionary puts it, “a state of mind where a person blindly holds on to the idea of their perfect lifestyle, regardless of the inevitable life factors that make it impossible for it to be true.”
Homosexual men are driven by the same extrinsic rewards and consequences as other Virginia men:
- Financial stability
- Pride of place
- Social acceptance
A gay Virginia man may find that the shelter of a heterosexual marriage satisfies those needs.
This marriage of contentment puts the wife in an awkward position. Do you as the gay man explicitly explain your needs and wants ahead of marriage? Do you assume she realizes you are homosexual and is cool with it?
For the sake of both parties, most homosexual men will elect an uncontested divorce from their straight spouses. This means the primary instrument will be the property settlement agreement.
A gay man can have children by a straight woman. This means divorce and custody issues arise for the gay Virginia man the same as for the heterosexual Virginia man.
Virginia Law & Equal Treatment
With same-sex marriage now protected under federal law, Virginia is not about to trample the rights of its gay men, but neither will the Code of Virginia carve out special accommodations for homosexual guys, either.
Recent court rulings have affirmed that gay people bear the same responsibilities as straight people regarding spousal support, as with the April, 2016 Luttrell v. Cucco decision by the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court decided that an ex-spouse loses spousal support when he or she becomes part of a same-sex couple.
The Code of Virginia does not even contain the word “homosexual,” which leaves the law to treat gay or straight equally. The laws governing divorce, spousal support, child support and child custody all apply to Virginia gay divorced men and Virginia heterosexual divorced men alike.
A spouse who attempts to punish her gay husband for his supposed “treachery” can try, usually without success, to ply the court with tales of her shame. Virginia spousal support decisions, however, are based on finances, not sexuality, as established in Code of Virginia § 20-108.1. The application or denial of spousal support is not a punishment; it is a means to secure financial stability during the transition from being married to being single again.
Some divorcing women may claim the discovery that a spouse is gay leaves them emotionally wounded. We cannot argue, legally, whether you have scarred your spouse by divorcing to follow your heart, but we do know that most gay men in marriages feel genuinely conflicted.
They are not scheming to harm their spouses, nor are they trying to hurt their children. They may be accused of selfishness or immaturity for thinking they could “pull off” the elaborate ruse, but usually, men are wracked by guilt over what they are putting themselves and their spouses through.
Custody and Visitation with a Gay Father
A homosexual relationship, taken up by you, after marriage, also does not influence most Virginia courts regarding visitation schedules, so long as the “best interests of the child” are paramount. Gay men must meet the same high standard of care and nurturing that straight men do for visitation, custody and support.
Some pockets of Virginia may be less than understanding about living arrangements that include child visitation or custody; the law, though, is only interested in ensuring Virginia’s children are housed, fed, schooled and secure, as outlined in Code of Virginia § 16.1-278.15.
By calling the attorneys at The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, you can speak with an understanding, knowledgeable lawyer who can work for your best interests, no matter your sexual interests. Divorce and custody cut across all boundaries. When human hearts and minds are affected, you need great lawyers. You need The Firm For Men.