Serious legal hurdles for divorce of same-sex couples
May 04, 2010
As reported by Stephanie Chen on CNN:
"It's only been two months since the District of Columbia legalized the freedom to marry, but local attorney Lawrence Jacobs is already cautioning his clients: Marriage may be allowed, but divorce will be much harder to do.
"While the District and five states have legalized marriage equality and consequently allow divorces, granting divorces to same-sex couples elsewhere is often murky. As married same-sex couples cross into states that explicitly ban or don't recognize the freedom to marry, they face a dilemma.
"'Be careful what you ask for,' says Jacobs, who consults and represents gay couples considering marriage. Jacobs married his partner in Connecticut in 2009. 'When you break up, you may have a nasty fight in a court with no rules.'
"States across the country are grappling with their stance on divorces of same-sex couples. The Texas attorney general is resisting a divorce of a same-sex couple approved by an Austin, Texas, judge involving a lesbian couple. Two months ago in Pennsylvania, a judge denied a divorce for two women who were married in Massachusetts. Rhode Island's top court rejected the idea of allowing divorces for same-sex couples several years ago.
"'I'm still legally married, and if I want to marry again I can't,' says a disappointed Carole Kern, 47, who filed the petition for divorce that was rejected by the Pennsylvania judge in March.
"Kern is from Pennsylvania and traveled to Massachusetts in 2009 to marry her partner Robin Taney. Kern would not comment on the reason for their divorce.
..."Sarah Warbelow, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, wants same sex couples to have equal access to marriage and divorce no matter what state they reside in. ... 'The inability to get divorced could have real impacts on the ability to decide who gets property, a child's visitation and the ability to enter a new relationship in the future,' she says."
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