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Same-sex couples and divorce laws

In 2010, a Florida woman and her same-sex partner traveled to Massachusetts in order to get married and soon thereafter returned to Florida to live. When the pair decided to get divorced in 2012 they encountered problems because of Florida not recognizing the marriage. Because same-sex marriage is legal in Washington, couples that come to the state to get married and then return to their own states to live may run afoul of the same issues.

Despite the recent ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex divorce has received little or no attention. Due to varying interpretations and recognition of same-sex marriage in different states, there are complexities involved if same-sex married couples decide to terminate their marriage. A legally married couple living in a non-recognition state would have to move to the state where they married and remain for up to a year to establish domicile.

It can be even more complex when children are involved. New York, for example, recognizes full parental rights if one member of a same-sex couple, who did not bear the children, legally adopts them. Many same-sex couples, though, don't go through a full adoption. Consequently, some courts will not take the rights of a de facto parent into account when determining custody or support issues. Many same-sex couples have entered into prenuptial agreements that attempt to take into account these matters, but the DOMA decision has forced some to be reexamined as well.

Someone contemplating a divorce may wish to speak with an attorney that has experience in divorce and family law matters. The attorney may be able to help negotiate agreements dealing with such matters as spousal and child support.

http://www.leg.wa.gov/CodeReviser/documents/sessionlaw/2011pam1.pdf

Source: Daily Beast , "The Gay Divorce Trap: When Same-Sex Marriage Goes Wrong", Lizzie Crocker, September 30, 2013

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