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How Same-Sex Marriage Changes the Divorce Landscape

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 6-Jul-2015

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could get married in all 50 states, making the U.S. the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage on a nationwide level.

As same-sex couples joyously celebrated marriage equality for all, courts across the nation are beginning to see another effect of the high court's decision: divorce equality. Before the June 26 ruling, obtaining a divorce was difficult, if not nearly impossible for same-sex married couples who lived in states that did not recognize their unions.

For example, if a same-sex couple travelled to Pennsylvania, which legalized same-sex marriage since May 20, 2014 to get married, but lived in Louisiana, which didn't used to recognized same-sex marriage, they would have to move to Pennsylvania, or another state that recognized same-sex marriage in order to obtain a divorce.

State Residency Requirements for Divorce

This may seem simple, but for most couples, the idea of uprooting their lives just to obtain a divorce was rather difficult, if not next to impossible, especially when you factor in children, family ties, and the job market.

The issue is that while many states, such as Pennsylvania do not have a residency requirement to get married, they do however, have a residency requirement for getting a divorce. In Pennsylvania, you have to have resided in Pennsylvania for at least six (6) months before filing for divorce.

Before the high court's ruling on June 26, this meant that many same-sex couples had to stay legally, financially and emotionally tied to someone when they wanted to be divorced. The good news is that the Supreme Court's ruling has eradicated this problem for same-sex couples, meaning they can now obtain a divorce in their home state, regardless of where they were married.

Another issue for same-sex couples is that of child custody, particularly where one partner had a biological relationship with a child, but the other parent did not. With same-sex marriage recognized in all states, it should strengthen the parental rights of the parent who does not have a biological connection with their child.

If you're looking for a divorce attorney in Pennsylvania for same-sex couples, contact Cairns Law Offices for a free case evaluation – we look forward to assisting you!