Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Despite DOMA, same-sex divorce remains a challenge for many

Despite the recent ruling by the Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act, there are other legal challenges that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community has to face. Same-sex divorce remains a gray area in many state laws, even those that allow same-sex marriage. Residency and jurisdiction remains an obstacle for many same-sex spouses.

For residents of Worcester, Massachusetts, this is not a big concern. But for those who took advantage of getting married in Massachusetts when it became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004 and have moved out of state since then, divorce can become an expensive and frustrating venture indeed.

Gay marriage is relatively new, and many laws that affect heterosexual couples still need to be adapted for gay couples. There is also the issue of residency. While states that recognize same-sex marriage will also grant divorce, those people who have traveled to those states to get married will need to satisfy the residency requirements in those states in order to file. The reason is that those states that don't recognize same-sex marriage will not grant the divorce.

It can be a difficult and expensive proposition. One lawyer explained that some people may start to disregard the law, which could lead to bigamy and other illegal situations.

Divorce is often viewed as a beginning of a new chapter for many people here in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is an amazing feat that the United States is starting to view gay marriage in a whole new light. However, if laws are slow to take effect, it could easily defeat the very purpose of allowing same-sex marriage.

In the meantime, legal professionals are able to evaluate the circumstances surrounding each couple's case and may offer valuable advice regarding same-sex divorce. This can help many couples to make informed decisions before filing for divorce.

Source: CNBC.com, "For gay couples, divorce comes with extra costs," Eun Kyung Kim, Aug. 6, 2013

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