Monday, August 1, 2011
Issues with Gay Marriage?
New York recently became the 6th state to allow gay couples to legally wed. That leaves 44 states that still do not recognize the union between two people of the same sex. This fact raises astronomical legal issues when it comes to divorce. I've fielded dozens of phone calls and had consultations with several gay men and women who were married in another state and now live in Florida. The sad truth is that there really isn't anything that I can do for that person unless they own property together. Otherwise, there are no alimony laws, equitable distribution statutes or even child custody laws that protect you in states where gay marriage is not recognized. While no one goes into a marriage thinking that they will get a divorce, the reality is that there will be times when a gay couple will no longer want to be married and in 44 of the 50 states, there are no laws to protect either party. While it is true that you can possibly get divorced in the state in which you were married, you have to satisfy that state's jurisdictional requirements in order to file for divorce. Even worse, to my knowledge, there are only two states that acknowledge same sex marriages that were performed in other states. Therefore, under most circumstances, if you are gay, you can only get a divorce and be protected under your state's divorce laws if you live in the state in which you were married. This is the same fundamental problem that people have with respect to common law marriages. Florida does not recognize common law marriage either, therefore, in the State of Florida, the only way that you can protect yourself is to legally marry someone. All of this is tremendously overwhelming to think about and I can only hope that our legislators on a National and local level are smarter than I am to create laws to solve the complex problems that arise when gay marriage is not "legal" on a National level.