Same-Sex Divorce Raises New Challenges for Couples

Posted by Ryan Russman | Dec 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

The New Hampshire Register is reporting an interesting story about same-sex marriage, or rather, same-sex divorce. The article looks at couple who live in Mississippi. They are same-sex couple who were married in 2008 in San Francisco. They then moved to Mississippi where they've lived ever since. Now the couple is seeking a divorce which raises the question how same-sex divorces will be handled in states where their marriage is not recognized.

Currently most states, like Mississippi, do not recognize same-sex marriages nor do they recognize same-sex divorce. This means that couples who are married in other states and then move to a state that does not recognize their union do not have a lot of options if they choose to divorce. While same-sex divorce does not get the public attention that same-sex marriage does, advocates say that it is equally important. The New Hampshire Register article states that same-sex couples who is married in another state and chooses to get a divorce in a state where their marriage is not recognized do not have a lot of laws on their side. Mostly likely, they would have to move to a state that does recognize their marriage, establish residency there and then get divorce. Though this might be the easiest way legally, it is not a very realistic option for most couples.

While  this situation might not seem like a big deal to some people, when you consider the purpose of a divorce as far as dividing up assets and agreeing to child custody arrangements, a couple with joint assets and children may have a very hard time separating without the ability to divorce. Divorce legal proceedings allow couples to work out terms of their split and a judge can make a ruling in cases where issues cannot be agreed upon. As same-sex marriage gains wider acceptance throughout the country, more couples are taking advantage of their ability to wed. Statistically, this also means more and more same-sex couples will be seeking divorces. The article reports that already there have been several cases of this in Mississippi Texas and Kentucky.

The couple in Mississippi that the author speaks to will likely end up signing a settlement to divide their assets, property and debts. This is a costly action which requires hiring attorneys and fighting with the government. A divorce petition was filed in the state of Mississippi to which the Mississippi Attorney General's office filed a motion to intervene saying that the divorce petition should be dismissed on the following grounds:

Mississippi “has no obligation to give effect to California laws that are contrary to Mississippi's expressly stated public policy,” the motion argues. “That legitimate policy choice precludes recognition of other States' same sex marriages for any reason, including granting a divorce.”

Same-sex marriage and divorce is legal in the state of New Hampshire. As more couples take advantage of same-sex marriage, more and more divorce cases will likely surface. Even in states where marriage and divorce is legal, same-sex couples may face more obstacles in the future as same-sex divorce has not been as analyzed yet as marriage has been.

About the Author

Ryan Russman

Attorney Ryan Russman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of New Hampshire citizens. His practice, based in Exeter (Rockingham County) New Hampshire, is limited to cases involving DWI and DUI, other motor vehicle and criminal cases, and many cases involving personal injury. He is, however, best known as one of New Hampshire's leading legal authorities on DWI.


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