Same-sex marriage is an evolving issue across the United States. Just a decade ago, same-sex marriage wasn't recognized in any state. Now, same-sex marriages are recognized in a handful of states, and growing. While couples have flocked to these states to legally wed, once they return to their home states where their marriage isn't recognized, there have been discrepancies that they may not have foreseen. Such is the case for a woman who wants a divorce from her same-sex marriage legalized in Washington in 2010.
The woman is one of many same-sex spouses whose marriage was legalized, but now wants a divorce. However, the woman lives in Texas, which is one of the states that does not recognize same-sex marriage. If a state doesn't recognize marriage, then it cannot recognize the divorce of that marriage. Confusion has ensued for her and many couples about what comes next.
In Texas, or other states not granting same-sex divorce, there are three options for same-sex couples. They can move to a state where same sex marriage is legal, however most states have residency requirements. They can seek to have the marriage annulled, or they can begin a protracted court battle. Most opt for the courtroom. Common-law helps dictate how judges rule on each individual case.
The law is still evolving on same-sex marriage and each state addresses the issues a little differently. As the law continues to develop, more rights will likely be granted to same-sex couples in marriage and divorce. In the meantime, same-sex couples who are planning for the future should research how state law will treat their individual circumstances.
Source: USA Today, "For same-sex couples, breaking up is hard to do," Richard Wolf, July 25, 2014