The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that makes same sex marriage legal across the country. Not only is this great news for civil rights activists, but it is also a beacon of hope for same sex couples who want to file for divorce.
Same Sex Marriage before the Ruling
Before the ruling, only 37 states (including the District of Columbia) recognized same sex unions as being legal marriages. This was problematic for gay couples who wished to marry their partners, but were unable to do so because same sex marriage was still illegal in their home state.
To combat this, couples would travel to states that performed same sex unions to get married. While there was nothing illegal about this practice, things become difficult if the couple decided to get a divorce. Because their states refused to recognize their union as being valid, couples would be unable to proceed with divorce.
Residency Requirements for NY Divorce
In order for a divorce action to commence in New York, one party must be considered a resident of the state. Typically, this means that one person needs to live in New York for a period of at least one year.
New York’s residency requirement was a major roadblock for out-of-state gay couples who were married in New York. Unable to file for divorce in their home state, couples would desperately reach out to area law firms in a desperate attempt to become legally separated from their spouse. The only way this could be done was if one spouse uprooted their lives and moved to the Empire State and established residency. Such a drastic change was not an option for most.
Marriage Equality = Divorce Equality
With marriage equality comes divorce equality. Same sex couples now have the same rights and benefits as their straight peers when it comes to marriage, child custody, and parenting. Before the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, gay couples who were unable to wed had no rights to joint or marital assets. The inability to marry prevented same sex spouses from making major medical decisions if their partner were to fall ill, and limited the amount of legal rights they had if their partner passed away during their relationship.
Child custody and parental rights have been overhauled for same sex couples. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, these rights were heavily unbalanced for gay couples. Unless adoption was completed successfully, only one spouse would have legal say over a shared child. This is no longer the case. Same sex couples can now rejoice knowing that both spouses share equal custody and parenting rights.
Compassionate Divorce Lawyers
Divorce can be an emotionally trying time, especially for same sex couples who have fought so hard to have the right to marry their long time partners. While divorce is legally the same regardless of the sexual orientation of litigants, it can be a gut-wrenching experience for gay couples. It is important to hire compassionate and empathetic divorce lawyers who are well equipped to handle delicate matrimonial and family law cases. For more information on same sex divorce, contact New York City’s leading matrimonial and family law firm, Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C., today!