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Same-sex marriages and divorce

Gay couples married in states that recognize this status but reside elsewhere may find divorcing problematic. California residents won't encounter this problem, but people who marry in California may find divorcing in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage difficult. Since their home state may not recognize same-sex marriage, divorce is not legally possible because there is no valid marriage.

Many couples came to California to marry when that state became one of the first to recognize same sex marriage and then the couples returned to their home state. For some, it was a political statement and an exciting participation in social change. When problems arose later, some couples found they could not be divorced because their marriage was not recognized in their state of residence.

Although gay marriage advocates are confident that eventually all the states will recognize same-sex marriage, currently that is not the case. Separating couples may have the same property division and settlement issues that heterosexual couples have. Even though the courts may be sympathetic to same-sex marriage, they must still abide by the state laws in place. Some states, such as California, have removed the residency requirement from divorce. That means that same-sex couples from states that do not recognize their marriage as legal can obtain a divorce in California and they are not required to be residents, as long as both parties agree.

Marriage and family law has become more complex with the increasing prevalence of same-sex marriage. Property division, child custody, support issues and visitation rights are legal issues that affect divorcing gay couples as well as straight couples. A same-sex marriage that ends is seldom a simple matter, and getting married may be much easier than splitting up.

Source: Huffington Post, "More And More Gay People Can Get Married ... But Can They Divorce?", Lila Shapiro, December 05, 2013

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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