This week saw a huge legal victory for proponents of same-sex marriage after the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). While this may come as good news for Maryland residents who support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, it may not be as helpful for those hoping to have an easier time going through same-sex divorce. This is because while DOMA — which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples whose states did recognize their marriages — was struck down, the Supreme Court ruling did not go a step further and legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.
Because of that, those who hope to get divorced in states which do not recognize same-sex marriage will still need to petition for a divorce in states which do. Considering that most if not all states have a residential requirement in order to qualify for a divorce, that means that one or both spouses would need to move to the state which allows same-sex marriage and divorce. This can be a difficult challenge both financially and logistically.
Fortunately for Maryland couples, our state recognizes both same-sex marriage and divorce. Additionally, even though there will still be hurdles for same-sex couples in some states to cross, just having DOMA struck down will make both marriage and divorce for them a little easier. These couples whose states do allow same-sex marriage will now be entitled to federal benefits that were formerly denied to them.
This can be helpful both during marriage and in the event of a same-sex divorce. Benefits are often carefully considered and divided up during the property division process. Maryland couples who are going through their own same-sex marital split may wish to fully research all of the rights that are guaranteed to them under both state — and now — federal law. This could help them make better decisions as they go through a divorce.
MarketWatch.com, ” Supreme Court simplifies gay divorce,” Quentin Fottrell, June 26, 2013