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Massachusetts gay marriages: You may not be entitled to a divorce

When same-sex couples get married in Massachusetts, they are extended the same rights as those who are not in same-sex relationships. While this works for those who stay in Massachusetts, it does pose the question of what happens to people who were legally married in Massachusetts, move and then want a divorce.

While a divorce is legal in Massachusetts, it isn’t necessarily going to be in another state. This is the issue that has come up in St. Louis, Missouri. A Feb. 11 report discusses how a same-sex couple requested a divorce in St. Louis. The men were married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, so they likely didn’t see the problem with requesting a divorce.

In Missouri, same-sex marriages are not legal. The Supreme Court of Missouri has decided that judges in the state have jurisdiction over these matters and could decide to deny requests for same-sex divorces if they felt it necessary. Because of that, these two men have not been able to get their divorce granted.

This case comes following a similar situation where a divorce was actually granted to two women in Boone County, Missouri. They had been married in Massachusetts in 2009. A different judge ruled over that case, and her argument was that because the couple married legally in a state that allowed same-sex marriage, she could grant the divorce by law as well.

Those who currently struggle to get divorces in states with same-sex marriage bans have few options but to challenge the ban or to return to the state where they were married to file for a divorce. This isn’t always possible for the couple, making the divorce more difficult in these situations.

Source: Columbia Tribune, “No ruling from Supreme Court on whether same-sex divorces OK” Feb. 11, 2015

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