Same Sex Divorce

Though same sex marriages are now legal across the United States and recognized in every state, until recently that was not the case. As as a result, same sex divorce was not possible in many areas of the country. This has now changed.

Before the US Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 to legalize same sex marriage across the country, not all gay spouses could divorce without a tremendous amount of trouble and confusion. This is because until it became nationally recognized, gay marriages weren’t legal in every state. If a gay couple was legally married in one state then moved to a state that didn’t recognize same sex marriage, they couldn’t get divorced there either.

Residency and Divorce Laws

Prior to the ruling in 2015, same sex couples could get divorced in the same state where they married, but that caused many problems.

  • Most states require couples to establish residency before they will be granted a divorce in that state. If the same sex couple moved away after they were married, they were forced to return to the original state and re-establish residency to get divorced. This could require couples to relocate several times.
  • Same sex couples who travelled to another location simply to get legally married returned home to a state that didn’t recognize their marriage and therefore would not grant a divorce.

Ending a Domestic Partnership

If a same sex couple formed a domestic partnership or civil union rather than a legally recognized marriage, they may face additional challenges. Though those two alternate arrangements are very similar to being married, state laws vary on how they recognize them, if at all. Check with a same divorce lawyer if you are unsure.

  • If the same sex couple entered into a domestic partnership or civil union in one state then relocated to another state that doesn’t recognize that arrangement, they may not be able to dissolve it where they currently reside.
  • If a same sex couple entered into a civil union in Rhode Island or Delaware prior to 2013, that arrangement was automatically converted to a marriage in that year.

Consult a Divorce Lawyer

Most family law lawyer Peoria IL trusts offer a free case review for couples who are considering ending their marriage. A divorce lawyer can help make a difficult process as straightforward as possible. Know your legal rights after speaking with a divorce lawyer who has helped other same sex couples navigate their way through the divorce process.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Smith & Weer, P.C. for their insight into divorce practice.

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