Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

Court rules same-sex divorce is OK, gay marriage still prohibited

It is almost as if we can see the country dividing before our very eyes. One state just passed a constitutional ban to same-sex marriage. Many states have laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Other states allow civil unions but not marriage. Yet others have allowed same-sex marriage for years now.

Massachusetts made same-sex marriages legal on May 17, 2004.

But can there be a same-sex divorce in a state that does not perform same-sex marriages? That question was recently answered by the Maryland Supreme Court. The court said -- yes.

According to news sources, a same-sex couple that was married in California in 2008 and relocated to Maryland, attempted to get a divorce in their new state. The family court in Maryland said no. Their desire to move on with their lives -- albeit separately -- was denied in 2010. The two women appealed the decision and the new ruling was announced last week. Their divorce may proceed.

Maryland will soon be joining Massachusetts as one of the states which allow same-sex marriages. Barring a voter referendum in November, same-sex marriages will be allowed to be performed as of next January. The state already recognizes marriages performed in other states.

There are currently six states, plus the District of Columbia, which allow same-sex marriages. In alphabetical order, those states are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. The state of Washington will join the list as of this June.

A same-sex divorce is just like any divorce with division of property, alimony, child custody and child support issues. Anyone who is considering divorce is well advised to consult with an attorney familiar with such matters.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Maryland court OKs same-sex divorce," Brian Witte, May 19, 2012

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