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Did the 2016 Presidential Election Ruin Marriages?

Kelsea Wiggins Kelsea Wiggins Did the 2016 Presidential Election Ruin Marriages?
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Somehow, we all endured what is going down in history as the most tumultuous presidential campaign and election season. Ever. But perhaps your marriage wasn’t quite so lucky. Being on opposite sides of the aisle politically may not have been a deal-breaker in the past, but with a plethora of highly contentious social issues on the table — this election season was an entirely different ball game.

I sat down with Gus Dahlberg — of local family law firm Babbitt & Dahlberg — to better understand what the changing political climate has meant for families in Columbus.

Certainly, one would assume that an attorney that specializes in family law and divorce would have been hounded with cases sparked by political drama. It seemed as if absolutely everyone was arguing with everyone during the election season. However, Mr. Dahlberg says that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Despite what many may assume, most couples seeking divorce are not so astronomically different from one another that they would be alarmed, off-put, or offended by learning that their political affiliations are not in line. That being said, it is very easy, during this time, to pin a high conflict situation, like the election, as a cause of separation. Dahlberg argues that the true issues are much deeper than which yard sign to put out.

Where Dahlberg sees a more likely result of legal conflict spawned by the election is between parents who have never married. When the plight of how to properly raise children emerges, the heavy, polarizing issues exposed during the presidential campaign become unavoidable. Especially in cases where the parents never lived together, “religious and social issues as a whole” are catalysts for family legal drama.

“Now that we’ve deemed it socially acceptable to be offensive, again, I can see a break in marital or family relationships,” says Dahlberg.

With the future of LGBTQ rights potentially hanging in the balance, I asked Dahlberg if he predicted any immediate cause for anxiety with the coming change in administration.

“No,” he offered, “at least not in the short term.”

Dahlberg explains that to change or reverse the recent legal wins for the LGBTQ community would be an extremely lengthy process.

“There would have to be a complete change in the makeup of the Supreme Court, which takes time,” he added. “A case to challenge their rulings would have to come about, which also takes time.”

Further, Dahlberg notes that there are legal ramifications imminent if the coming administration keeps their campaign promises in regards to a change in tax laws. One promise repeated on the campaign trail would mean a removal of the “Head of Household” tax filing status.

“An awful lot of single parents, particularly following a divorce, use head of household as a tax filing tool,” he said. “If it were removed as a filing status, their tax burden could go up significantly.”

“There are going to be so many unintended consequences that come out of this election, more so than in years past,” Dahlberg added.

Let’s hope it only boils over in squabbles at the dinner table and not legal proceedings.

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