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Unrecognized unions pose problem for same-sex couples and divorce

Being allowed the opportunity to marry has been something for which many same-sex couples have been fighting for an extended period of time. There has been much joy in many areas when a state legalizes same-sex marriage, but what many may fail to realize is what that means for same-sex couples and divorce. While divorce is not often celebrated, those couples who have been wanting to divorce but could not due to their unions not being recognized in states they may have moved to could feel differently.

Because same-sex marriages are legal only in certain states, many couples could become married in one state then move to another state where their marriage is not considered legal. In a state that did not recognize same-sex marriages, a same-sex couple could not legally divorce if their marriage was not working out. On August 1, a state near Pennsylvania legalized same-sex marriage, and on that day while many couples were creating their unions, the first same-sex divorce for the state was also filed.

A same-sex couple had married in another state but because their marriage was not recognized in their current state, they had been separated for years without the ability to legally divorce. Some may wonder why this would be considered a problem, but as with heterosexual couples, if they are not legally divorced, the individuals could not pursue another marriage should they wish. Getting divorced quickly in states that do allow same-sex marriage and divorce is not always an option as some states require couples to be residents for a certain number of days before they can file a petition for divorce.

Same-sex couples and divorce is a relatively new field to deal with as only a small number of states consider same-sex marriage legal. Though it may not be seen this way to many people, same-sex divorce being legal could be just as important as same-sex marriage being legal. As the laws regarding marriage and divorce differ from state to state, having knowledge of relevant Pennsylvania laws could be beneficial to same-sex couples looking for divorce information.

Source: Washington Times, What follows gay marriage? Gay divorce?, Myra Fleischer Myra, Sept. 10, 2013

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