With more states across the country approving same-sex marriage, questions are being raised as to how to handle the resulting issue of same-sex divorce when states handle these matters differently. Although same-sex marriage and divorce are valid in Maryland, what happens when a couple marries in our state but either resides in or moves to another state is not always immediately clear. This is an area of the law that is still in flux, which may mean that such same-sex couples could find it advantageous to actually seek a divorce in Maryland if they were married here and wish to dissolve their union.
The reason this might be beneficial is because marriage and divorce are decided on a state-by-state basis. States which do not recognize same-sex marriage often refuse to grant a same-sex divorce even when another state has given the seal of approval on that couple’s marriage. Rather than waging a potentially expensive battle to have their divorce approved in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage, it could be more cost-effective and less stressful to file for divorce in Maryland. Couples will likely need to research any residency or other requirements as far as filing for divorce goes.
Hopefully this issue will become less convoluted in the coming months and years. The United States Supreme Court is set to consider multiple cases stemming from the federal Defense of Marriage Act and same-sex marriage in the not-so-distant future. Hopefully this will help provide more clarity for government entities in other states that are not entirely sure how they should handle applications for same-sex divorce if their own all jurisdiction does not recognize same-sex marriage.
These are potential problems that a couple who is considering either entering into or exiting a same-sex marriage in Maryland may want to consider. This is especially the case if one or both partners are planning to move out of the state since it may be preferable for them to actually obtain a divorce before they actually move away. The other state may not recognize same-sex marriage which could make it even more difficult for them to get the divorce that they need to move on with their futures.
Source: Sun Gazette Newspapers, ” No Gay Marriage in Virginia . . . But What About Divorce?” Scott McCaffrey, Dec. 20, 2012