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DOMA decision creating both opportunity and complications

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2013 | Same Sex Couples & Divorce

This legislative session of the U.S. Supreme Court might be defined as being one of the most influential because of the landmark decisions it had to make in recent months. Perhaps no two were more important than the rulings regarding same-sex marriage and whether these couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples in the eyes of the federal government.

As a recap for our readers who may not know, two cases had been brought before the Supreme Court. The first was that of United States v. Windsor in which the Defense of Marriage Act was called into question. The second was that of Hollingsworth v. Perry which challenged California’s Proposition 8 and whether petitioner’s could appeal the decision to repeal Pop 8. In both cases, the changes in law have created opportunities but also complications as well.

As it was before the repeal of DOMA, same-sex couples that were married in one state but moved to another state (where gay marriage was not recognized) has an incredibly difficult time filing for divorce because of differing state laws. While the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA now awards same-sex couples the same federal allowances that heterosexual couples enjoy, the court’s decision did not change how other states adhere to their marriage laws.

It’s important for same-sex couples in the state of Washington to remember that despite the recognition from the federal government of their marriage status, they may still run into complex family law issues in other states. This may the obvious of not being able to file for divorce to more controversial subjects such as child custody as well. This will be the moment in which seeking legal representation will be most beneficial and highly recommended as well.

Source: The New Yorker, “Now for the mini-DOMAs,” Margaret Talbot, July 3, 2013


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