On Friday June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same sex couple marriage is legal in all 50 states. While thousands of couples rushed out to the local courthouse to officially and LEGALLY say “I do” others were thankful for the flip side of the issue-the right to get a legal divorce.
Prior to Friday’s decision, same sex couple marriage was legal in 37 states. Over the years many same sex couples residing in the other 13 states travelled for the right to legally wed. But, like all love struck newlyweds, no one considered the difficulties and legal issues involved should they wish to reconsider “until death do us part.”
Every state imposes residency and jurisdictional requirements on parties. In general, one party must live for period of time in the county in which the divorce action is filed. Couples jet setting off to Hawaii to marry on the sandy beaches or those just driving a few hours over state lines to marry in a courthouse hallway had no way of legally ending the marriage, parsing out property issues or formalizing custody and visitation agreements. Also, couples who initially lived in an accepting state but later moved to an unrecognizing state also found themselves without a viable resolution.
Yes, there were limited alternatives in contract law, civil lawsuits, or real estate/property law but none of the options directly addressed all the issues associated with the separation and division of a family. Moreover, the legal fees could be double or triple a “traditional” legal divorce because of the uniqueness of the situation and other complications. Most of the 37 states offered limited residency to same sex couples finding themselves in divorce limbo. Unfortunately, the requirements only applied to very specific circumstances, such as couples without children, no property disputes, etc.
While most of the nation celebrates the right to a legal union, there are many grateful for the opportunity to quietly and lawfully settle their past and move on to the future. Please contact The Snyder Adams Law Firm for a free consultation on any of your divorce or family law issues.