State Supreme Court sets precedent in New Hampshire

Legal decision gavel

A unanimous decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court stated that divorce courts should figure co-habitation time between same-sex couples when deciding divisions of estate and alimony. The ruling could have ramifications for heterosexual couples as well.

“This is a landmark decision in New Hampshire,” says Shaheen & Gordon, P.A. Attorney Paul R. Kfoury Sr. “Courts may now consider premarital cohabitation when considering the division of assets. We believe this case will be circulated across the country.”

The ruling comes after two women, Deborah Munson and Coralee Beal, filed for divorce in 2012. They had been living together since 1993 and joined in civil union in 2008 before marrying in 2011 when it became legal. Beal appealed the divorce decree that originally awarded her twelve percent of the marital estate and limited alimony. In all, the former couple had plans that left their respective estates to each other, join bank accounts, shared income and expenses, etc. Beal was also on Munson’s life and health insurance plans.

“This decision is an important step toward full equality for same-sex divorcing couples,” says Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director for the ACLU of NH.

“We are still working toward full marital equality in the post-Obergefell world,” said Gary Buseck, GLAD’s legal director. “This decision represents a very concrete development for all divorcing couples.”