Law Blog

Colorado Legalizes the First Gay Divorce

The recent Supreme Court decision that ruled DOMA unconstitutional is paving the way for same sex couples across the country to be able to legally marry and adopt children. Along with it however, is a brand new laundry list of legal questions–namely, how do gay couples who were married in states that allow same sex marriages get divorced without life-changing consequences?

Those who support gay marriage in say that Colorado’s first statewide ruling permitting finalized same sex divorces creates a new precedent for those looking to terminate their relationships as seamlessly as possible.

Legally wed in Massachusetts in 2009, Juli Yim and Lorelei Jones relationship eventually went started to break apart and Yim found a new partner in Colorado. Despite being one of the several states that treat straight and gay couples the same in most respects through domestic partnerships and civil unions, same sex marriages are currently prohibited in Colorado. Yet, gay couples can still be divorced according to the state statute.

While several states’ gay marriage laws force the couple to have in-state residency in order to legally terminate a relationship, many advocates say that the rule is incredibly inconvenient as it ultimately puts life on hold for those who’ve moved to other states. This has caused nationwide confusion on how same sex couples can get a divorce, and each issue varies by state. “A lot of people kind of think if they went on vacation to Iowa or Massachusetts or New York and got married and came back to their state, that when they break up they can just go their separate ways,” gay divorce attorney Kyle Martelon explained. “It’s not like that.”

Having taken effect on May 1st, the civil union law in Colorado offers legal protections for same sex couples getting divorced including: division of property, financial responsibility between former spouses, parental supervision, and child support to the dissipating parties… given that at least one of the people involved has been a Colorado resident for 90 days or more. The new legislation also prevents anyone who entered a marriage or a civil union in another state from doing so in Colorado with anyone aside from their spouse as recognized by the law.

As Yim’s divorce became final on July 29th, she and current partner Suzie Calvin plan to marry on May 1st of next year. Unfortunately, unless Colorado’s constitutional ban on same sex marriages is overturned, the couple will have to wed in a different state–a legal change that is not expected to come any time soon. During the first two months that the law took effect, a total of seven marriage dissolution cases were filed in Colorado. Yim’s was the first, while the other six are currently pending.

The same sex divorce lawyers at Nessel and Kessel Law offer services to draft separation agreements for gay and lesbian couples residing in Michigan who are legally married and looking to get a lawful divorce. Until marriage between same sex couples is legalized in the state of Michigan, allow the gay divorce attorneys at Nessel and Kessel assist you in helping to dissolve your out-of-state marriage.

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[This photo, taken May 17th, 2005, is of Julie (front left) and Hillary Goodridge as they pose with other same sex couples and advocates in celebration of their first wedding anniversary in Boston. The duo that led the legal crusade for Massachusetts to become the first state in America to recognize gay marriages is now the trendsetters for another type of same sex law: divorce. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009. / Elise Amendola AP]

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