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Same-sex marriage and divorce boom in Minnesota

One year ago, Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage. The state became the 13th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to get married. In the last year, Minnesota has seen over 3,800 same-sex couples get married. In that time, six more states have joined Minnesota and the other states in recognizing gay marriage, not to mention all of the states now faced with challenges to same-sex marriage bans. Gay couples also now enjoy expanded federal rights as a married couple following a Supreme Court decision last summer.

These decisions and landmark cases come as great news to many. But, with the initial joy and excitement sometimes follows the later realization that gay married couples still face a number of legal hurdles, especially in the area of family law. Gay or straight, not all marriages work out, but the end of a marriage can be much more complicated. if the couple's state of residency does not recognize the marriage.

For couples who did not wait until 2013 to get married in Minnesota, and perhaps opted to take their vows in another state, they could not get divorced in Minnesota until last year. When the state legalized gay marriage, it effectively legalized same-sex divorce. While many couples across the state ran to the alter on August 1, 2013, divorce attorneys say they also saw a huge influx of same-sex divorces.

In some instances, these couples had been separated for a number of years. They were simply waiting for their state to first recognize that their marriage was legal for them to get a divorce. This is not an issue for opposite-sex couples because every state recognizes such a union as valid.

Regardless of a couple's sexual orientation, ending a marriage comes with various divorce issues, including division of property and spousal support. If children are involved, there may be child support and child custody issues to address. A family law attorney can provide insight into these matters and help couples and their families sort out any disputes as seamlessly as possible.

Source: Pioneer Press, "A year of same-sex marriage. More love. More happiness.," Molly Guthrey, Elizabeth Hernandez & Doug Belden, July 31, 2014

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