Even as I sit down at my keyboard today, writing this seems counterintuitive to that which the attorneys of Michigan’s Nessel & Kessel Law, and their clients are traveling to the nation’s capital next week to argue, but the more I think, and the more I type, the more I realize the issues are one, and the same.
For years same-sex couples and activists have fought a system stacked ever-so-clearly in favor of heterosexual couples for the right to marry — and the right to divorce.
Considering same-sex divorce
The D-word. It’s not a word any couple wants to think about considering. But it happens. Same-sex couples love the same as straight couples; they cohabitate the same; they fight the same; and sometimes, they seek same-sex divorce.
Just as marriage equality is poised to sweep the whole of the nation once and for all, same-sex divorce is poised to boom. And that’s no surprise, for the simple fact of the matter that more couples are eligible to be married, and so more are eligible to be divorced.
A recent study done by the Williams Institute at UCLA found that out of the 640,000 total same-sex couples in the United States, 50,000 of those couples married in 2011.
Imagine that number today, four years later.
What the Williams Institute also found was that, in states where it was allowed, the marriage rate among homosexual couples was rising quickly toward that of heterosexual couples (e.g., In Massachusetts, in 2011, 68 percent of gay couples were married, compared to 91 percent of heterosexual couples).
Durability and longevity of same-sex marriage
Some have argued: But the evidence shows that same-sex marriages are more durable, and last longer than straight marriages! Well, yes. For now.
While what Williams Institute researchers found backs up this claim (About one percent of gay marriages dissolve each year, while that number is double for straight couples.), that just can’t last. People are fickle, and fight; people cheat, and they lie. People get married, and stay married for all the wrong reasons.
Love is love, no matter the sex of the lovers.
But just as true is this:
Irreconcilable differences are irreconcilable, no matter the sex of the couple.
That is why, just as heartily as we will argue for same-sex couples’ right to wed, we will open the doors to our office in Ann Arbor, Michigan for couples seeking a same-sex 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.
[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]