The battle for gay marriage continues in North Carolina, with the recent vote on Amendment One. While same sex couples are already banned from marrying in the state, as well as not having their vows made legal elsewhere recognized, Amendment One adds a clause that would make it more difficult to change the law to allow gay marriage in the future. Gay couples in North Carolina currently face another, less discussed, infringement to their rights, though: the right to divorce. Fortunately divorce attorneys can help charter these new, unfamiliar waters.
Everyone marries with the intention that it will last forever, but unfortunately, that isn’t true for a great number of couples, who end up seeking a divorce. It is no different for gay couples. But while they have the right to marry in six states at present (Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont), they find themselves in a legal black hole when it comes to seeking a divorce if they live in any other state.
The problem is that their union is not recognized as anything other than a civil partnership outside of those six states, including North Carolina. As such, those states do not recognize that there is a marriage to end, and they must divorce in the six states that allow them to marry.
The law requires that for a couple to divorce, they must reside in the state they wish to divorce in for at least a period of six months or longer (many states, including North Carolina, also require that a couple live separately for a year prior to granting the divorce).
Many gay couples feel they have no choice but to move back to a state for the short term to get that divorce, which is disruptive to their lives, to say the least, at an already turbulent time. Then there are those who simply cease their relationship, without ending their relationship on paper. That is legal in some states and not in others.
That is not to say there aren’t other options. Some gay couples, with the help of experienced divorce attorneys, have successfully petitioned judges for divorces. While there have not yet been any conclusive studies on the numbers, there are those who have had their marriages dissolved from out of state. Consult a lawyer in your area if you feel that this is the right path for you, but be prepared that it is not a particularly easy road to take.
(Articles on this blog are provided for informational purposes only. Use of this blog does not provide or replace individualized legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, please speak with one of our attorneys, who can offer legal advice specific to your circumstances.)