We’ve posted before about the difficulties that crop up for same-sex couples seeking divorce after marrying in states like Maryland, that recognize their marriages, but moving to states that do not. Same-sex divorce is complicated by the fact that there are no federal standards dictating how states must approach ending marriages that are valid in one state but not another. This issue has become even more hotly-debated as the Supreme Court considers the question of whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has intruded on the rights of those states who have ruled that same-sex marriage-and thus same-sex divorce-are legal in their own jurisdictions.
DOMA dictates that, under federal law, only marriages between one man and one woman are recognizable. That fact means that couples who have been legally wed in a state recognizing same-sex marriage are often denied many of the federal income tax and retirement benefits that their heterosexual counterparts are entitled to automatically. The Supreme Court is currently debating whether DOMA is constitutionally invalid, in whole or in part, and many LGBT activists are watching this case eagerly since it could have repercussions for same-sex couples in Maryland and across the country.
Many of these activists point out that even the states which allow same-sex marriage are often unprepared for the legal ramifications of allowing out-of-state couples to marry in their own jurisdiction. Those couples, which do not require residency to actually tie the knot, must often establish residency for six months to two years just to be able to seek a divorce in the same state where they wed with no problems. This can place an undue burden upon these couples. Either they must remain married indefinitely, or pack up their lives and move to another state simply to become eligible to legally end their marriages.
Maryland couples who have wed in our state and still maintain their residency here may be relieved to learn that they have viable options for same-sex divorce. It may benefit these couples to research their rights and responsibilities under state law. Additionally, they may wish to take a look at DOMA and follow how the Supreme Court decides on this issue in case it affects their own divorces now, or any that may come in the future.
Source: rawstory.com, “Divorce just as much a hurdle as marriage for the LGBT,” March 22, 2013