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Same-sex divorces can become complicated

In many parts of the country same-sex couples are unable to legally marry. However, after a couple does find a place to get married if they later decide to get divorced, the process can be just as challenging. A recent case in Ohio points out that differences between judges can influence whether or not a couple can untie the knot.

A same-sex couple, who married in Toronto, was turned down recently by an Ohio judge when they requested a divorce. The judge stated he could not divorce them since Ohio has a ban on same-sex marriages. However, less than a week earlier, another judge in Ohio approved a divorce of a gay couple. This judge asserted that Ohio's ban on same-sex marriages "merely states that the marriage has no legal force or effect in Ohio." He states it does not mean he cannot divorce a same-sex couple.

The discrepancy between these judges' decisions points out legal issues that can arise in same-sex marriages and divorces. Even though same-sex couples in Massachusetts can marry and divorce, legal challenges for same-sex couples are still present in our state.

Since federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage, same-sex couples are likely to encounter difficulties regarding taxes, health insurance, property division and child custody during a divorce. Since federal law does not apply in the same way to same-sex divorces as traditional divorces, understanding how federal law impacts a same-sex divorce is important.

When any couple divorces, they probably hope for an uncomplicated divorce that gets resolved quickly. Unfortunately, this is not the case for every divorce. With the help of a legal professional though, the divorce process may go more smoothly.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "Judge refuses lesbians a divorce," Alan Johnson, Aug. 24, 2012

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