Gay/lesbian marriages are not recognized in the state of Pennsylvania or its cities, such as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Since they are not legally recognized by the state, gay and lesbian couples cannot get an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania. Without legal recognition in the commonwealth, there can generally be no legal dissolution of the marriage.
Six states in the U.S. and Washington, D.C. have legalized same sex marriages. More than half of the country does not legally recognize the union of gay/lesbian couples. An uncontested divorce becomes a challenge for gay/lesbian marriages. If a person wants to legally end his or her marriage he/she may have to set up residency in a state where same sex marriages are recognized. This could mean living in another state between six months to two years.
Unlike marriage, were generally no residency requirement is required from the couple, an uncontested divorce normally requires proof of the state's residency requirements. Gay/lesbian couples also face the challenge of proving how many years they have been together. If a state does not recognize the union then the years as a couple in that state can come into question. This can affect a multitude of issues such as spousal support and retirement monies.
Another issue is child custody and support. If a person gives birth in a same sex marriage or if the couple adopted a child together, the couple may find themselves forging new legal territory. Often when same sex couples adopt a child, one person has to take on the role of being the official parent. This leaves the other parent in a legally vulnerable situation in case of a divorce.
If you find yourself in a state that does not recognize your gay or lesbian marriage and you are headed for a divorce, there are still options. You may want to contact a lawyer and have a settlement agreement drawn up between you and your spouse. In the agreement you can cover the traditional items such as child custody, child support, spousal support, assets and debts.
If you are not able to arrive at an agreement with your spouse and have a child, there are some other possible options. If there are no procedures in place in your state, you can offer to be a test case and try to create a new law. Be aware that there is no guarantee of favorable results by going this route. In addition, you may be thoroughly scrutinized by not only the legal system, but also the public.
Lastly, don't overlook the possibility of counseling, mediation or a divorce coach. Perhaps having a neutral third party involved in your divorce can help you and your spouse agree on a healthy dissolution.