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Same-sex divorce may be clarified by Supreme Court ruling

The recent Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional will have many repercussions for same-sex unions throughout the United States. Here in Connecticut and elsewhere, those repercussions may also manifest in the issue of same-sex divorce. Up until now, the decision to divorce has been a complicated, time consuming process for same-sex couples. The recent ruling may change all that.

Currently, the complications for couples wishing to divorce arises from the common practice of relocation. If a couple moves to a state in which their marriage is not officially recognized, they are unable to get the marriage dissolved. Quite often, even in states where same-sex marriage is legal, a divorce requires at least a year of full-time residency to qualify for the process.

The Supreme Court ruling may provide precedent for couples to challenge existing state laws. However, the process will still be a slow one, as many states remain opposed to allowing same-sex marriage or divorce at all. Couples are encouraged to consider prenuptial agreements and other future planning before approaching the altar in order to make any potential divorce situation easier to navigate, at least until full equality is attained.

The road to equality has been a harsh one for same-sex couples, and many people are inclined to take full advantage of the hard-won right to marry. However, in Connecticut and elsewhere, same-sex marriages are just as likely to end in divorce as their straight counterparts. Couples are encouraged to know the details of their state's laws and the laws of any state to which they are considering relocating before making major life decisions.

Source: The New York Times, "Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage May Help Resolve Status of Divorce," Erica Goode, July 2, 2013

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