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Virginia woman can’t divorce from same-sex marriage in Indiana

While the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act late last month, and the federal government now recognizes federal marriage benefits, same-sex couples are now beginning to find the freedom to divorce may be as difficult as the freedom to marry.

In the case of two Indiana women, the spouse was thrown out of the apartment she shared with her wife after only three months of marriage. And while a divorce was pending, Indiana law does not recognize same-sex marriage, and therefore does not recognize same-sex divorce. To Indiana, their marriage does not exist.

As a consequence, both women must travel to Iowa where they were legally married to annul their marriage. At issue, however, is that the couple cannot move back to Iowa just for reasons of divorce. To obtain a divorce in Iowa, they first have to meet a residency requirement of one year.

A senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, a legal institution for the advancement of civil rights for the LGBT community, suggested that as more states grant same-sex couples marriage rights, disparities between marriage and divorce rights on a state-by-state basis will create a split society.

The attorney goes on to say that this will remain a problem as some states recognize same-sex marriages while others do not. Couples might be left in a dilemma where after they've moved to a state that does not recognize such unions, divorce in that same state may not be possible. The attorney maintains this alone is another reason why all states need to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, the spouse has moved in with her parents in Virginia, with no plans to move back to Indiana. She is currently in contact with lawyers to rectify her divorce.

Divorce can not only be complicated, but in the case of same-sex couples, uncharted waters. Same-sex couples should consult a divorce attorney familiar with their state's current legalities regarding marriage and divorce before proceeding with annulment.

Source:  The Daily News, "Same-sex couples seeking divorce clash with Ind. laws" Rachel Podnar, Jul. 14, 2013

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