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Legal versus recognized: two words causing divorce confusion

A lot of ground has been gained in the fight for same-sex marriage rights across the nation over the past few years. This year, more states passed laws that have made it possible for same-sex couples to get married. The Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, making it illegal to refuse federal benefits to same-sex spouses.

Like any other relationship, some same-sex couples are bound to break up. So with the new marriage rights comes the discussion of same-sex divorce. A total of 13 states have legalized same-sex marriage, and so it rightly follows that they would allow those couples to get divorced in the state as well. What about the other 37 states?

When it comes to same-sex divorce, the words "legal and recognized" are causing some confusion and some problems across the nation. As addressed above, divorce is an option in states that apply the word legal. Other states, like Colorado, have enacted a civil union law that recognizes same-sex marriages where divorce is concerned.

The new Colorado law allows couples to seek formal, legal protections to separate their lives and dissolve their marriage. These include rights to the division of property, spousal or child support and parental visitation. The only caveat is that it comes with a residency requirement of 90 days.

What about other states? Take a couple who gets married in Minnesota -- the 13th state to legalize same-sex marriage. What happens if they decide to move to Texas -- a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage? What happens if one partner moves to Colorado? Can a partner get remarried if they move to a state that legalized same-sex marriage? What about a state that provides for civil unions? Can they get divorced when only one spouse resides in a "recognize" state?

It's easy to see how confusion can set in under any situation. Anyone seeking to end a marriage in Colorado should discuss their rights and options with an experienced family law attorney.

The Washington Times, "What follows gay marriage? Gay divorce?" Myra Fleischer, Sept. 10, 2013

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