Constitutional Law

Top Virginia court nixes alimony for woman now cohabiting in same-sex relationship

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If Samantha Cucco, after her 2008 divorce, had been in living with a man in a relationship analogous to marriage, she would have forfeited the alimony her ex-husband agreed to pay for eight years.

So, under a landmark U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision last year, it was only right that she also forfeit alimony payments after cohabiting with another woman and entering into a marriage-like relationship with her, the Virginia Supreme Court decided last week.

Reversing two lower courts, the state’s top court said in its Thursday opinion (PDF) that failing to apply the same standard to same-sex couples would create an “untenable” result: “The individual in the same-sex relationship would continue to receive support while the individual in the opposite-sex relationship would not.”

Attorney Gail Deady of the ACLU of Virginia, who represented ex-husband Michael Luttrell in the appeal of the Fairfax County case, agreed.

“Marriage equality means marriage equality,” she told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Cucco had argued that a state cohabitation law under which this result was reached does not apply to same-sex couples.

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