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D.C. law could make it easier for gay couples to divorce

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2012 | Firm News

If you’ve ever been stuck in a marriage that no longer works, regardless of the reasons, you know what it’s like to go through a divorce, or at least to seriously consider it. But what if the laws in your state didn’t allow you to legally part from your spouse?

With Texas being one of the majority of states that don’t allow same-sex marriage, many gay couples opt to marry in another state and then return to Texas. But what if they, like many heterosexual couples, later decide to divorce? Do they go back to the state where they married to untie the knot? In many cases, yes. But there are some inconvenient stipulations.

Washington, D.C., is one place where gay couples are legally allowed to marry. But in order to get a divorce, they’re required to return to the District and fulfill six months of residency before filing. This simply isn’t a viable option for most couples. But a new bill aims to change that. The Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Amendment Act, co-sponsored by eight of 13 D.C. council members, would do away with the residency requirement.

Nationwide, laws dealing with same-sex marriage are something of a patchwork. A handful of states allow it, most states don’t recognize it and some have amendments actively outlawing it. But almost no states have dealt with the issue of divorce, even though same-sex couples aren’t immune to the troubles that any opposite-sex marriage can encounter.

There are a couple states that have already made the residence requirements less of a problem for divorcing same-sex couples, including California and Delaware. But same-sex marriage advocates say there needs to be a less confusing and inconsistent process gay couples can look to nationwide.

Source: The Washington Post, “D.C. weighs same-sex divorce bill,” Katie Rogers, Dec. 22, 2011