Prior to the United States Supreme Court's 2015 ruling in Obergefell v.
, same-sex spouses had difficulty getting divorced, Because all states
are not recognized as same-sex marriage. Couples who would get married in a
state where same-sex marriage was legal, and then move to another state where it
was not, would be barred from receiving a divorce. Of course, they could get a
divorce in the state where they were married, but states usually require a
certain length of residency before being eligible for divorce.
In many of the states that did allow same-sex marriage before Obergefell v.
, they also allowed non-resident same-sex couples to divorce.
Now, same-sex couples have a right to marriage, as well as divorce, no matter
what state it is that they may live. Even though same-sex marriage and divorce
is legal, some couples are still experiencing issues.
- The Difference Between Domestic Partnerships vs. Civil Unions
- How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership
- What Should You Consider Before Filing for Divorce?
- Do I Need a Lawyer for My Same-Sex Divorce?
The Difference Between Domestic Partnerships vs. Civil Unions
Domestic partnerships and civil unions were often used interchangeably, but
there is a difference (no matter how small it might feel). Civil unions tend to
be recognized as a legal marriage in states that offer them, meaning all the
same benefits of marriage but without calling it marriage.
However, a domestic partnership typically has limited benefits (depending on the
state), like unable to file taxes or request child support from a former
After the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, the following states
converted civil unions into marriages:
Civil unions were allowed in 2005 but had limited benefits. But in 2010,
civil unions were no longer offered and all existing civil unions were
converted into marriages.
Civil unions were approved and issued in 2012, and they offered the same
protections and rights as unions. In 2013, Delaware converted civil unions
- New Hampshire: Civil unions were created in 2008, and in 2010 New
Hampshire legalized and implemented same-sex marriage. In 2011, all civil
unions were turned into marriage.
- Rhode Island:
Civil unions were created in 2011 and they offered the same benefits as
marriage. In 2013, Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage and converted
all civil unions into marriage.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2009, but civil unions were offered long
before. Any civil union before 2009 remains valid, but civil unions are no
longer offered in Vermont.
How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership
For couples who were previously unable to get married and instead opted for
domestic partnerships, some states do not recognize these types of
relationships. The steps to dissolve a domestic partnership varies, depending on
the state law.
First, the states that can dissolve a domestic partnership are the states that
recognize one. Second, the states have unique requirements for dissolving a
domestic partnership. Many states allow a pain-free dissolution if there are no
children or if, in general, it's an uncomplicated dissolution.
If there are a large number of assets, children, or anything else that will
require legal division, then the state may require you to go through a longer
process of dissolution proceedings.
What Should You Consider Before Filing for Divorce?
Though same-sex marriage and divorce is settled at the federal level, it is
important to check your own state's laws on what is required to divorce and
dissolve civil unions. For instance, couples who remain in civil unions may have
to establish residency wherever the union was performed in order to legally end
Other considerations to look into when considering divorce include
- Residency Requirements:
Some states require couples to reside in-state for a
certain length of time before filing for divorce. Otherwise this kind of
divorce can not be filled in those states.
- Rules for Filing Divorce:
Each state will have different requirements for
filing paperwork, mandatory arbitration, marriage counseling, trial separation
- No-Fault Divorce State Laws:
Many states offer no-fault divorce, such as those
citing irreconcilable differences as the cause for the dissolution of the
- At-Fault Divorce State Laws:
Some states will fault one party for the
breakdown of the marriage. For instance, if a spouse has an extramarital affair,
the court may grant an at-fault divorce.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Same-Sex Divorce?
If you are divorcing your spouse, you should contact a local family attorney.
Anyone, whether they're in a same-sex or heterosexual marriage, should seek
legal counsel prior to going through the divorce process. An experienced
attorney will advise you of your rights, and will assist you in gathering all
that is necessary to ensure smooth divorce proceedings.
As of now, these jurisdictions have legalized same-sex marriage: California
,India, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, Washington, Hawaii, and
A handful of others have created parallel systems of civil unions or domestic
partnerships, which are available to same-sex couples, and entail most of the
same rights and responsibilities as traditional marriage, including divorce.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Shvet Sharma
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