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First same-sex divorce has been filed in Minnesota

Same-sex couples in Minnesota can now be focused on their new future, one where they have the same legal standing as other couples. Minnesota's legalization of same-sex marriage will mean a flourishing of same-sex weddings, but it will also eventually mean an increasing amount of same-sex divorces.

Less than a week after the Minnesota Senate gave final approval to a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, a same-sex divorce was filed there. The couple had been married in Canada in 2004, but now that their marriage is legally recognized in Minnesota, they can legally terminate it. The law took effect August 1.

Ever since the couple separated three years ago, they've been unable to be granted a divorce because their marriage wasn't recognized until now. The couple might have been able to divorce in Canada or other states that recognized same-sex marriage, but there was residency requirements that made that option difficult.

In addition, one of the women gave birth to a son through artificial insemination and her spouse at the time legally adopted him. Since that time they have been dealing with the custody issue. Once the divorce is finalized, the birth mother wants to change her son's last name and try to get her ex-wife to sign over parental rights.

Same-sex divorces could still be a complex issue to deal with because there is no case law for the many circumstances same-sex couples face. The Supreme Court, in a second ruling, did not establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. This means that the same-sex marriage prohibitions that have been adopted by many states still stand. This could create problems for a couple that was married in one state then moves to a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage and eventually wants to get divorced.

It is important for people to be aware of the ways in which these cases will differ from opposite-sex cases. If someone is facing a same-sex divorce, failing to recognize these differences or hiring an attorney who is not aware of these differences could have a poor result. It is prudent for any person facing a same-sex divorce to find an attorney experienced in and who fully understands and will address the difficult issues that arise.

Source:, "SAME-SEX DIVORCE: Will 1st Minn. case set precedent?" Bill Keller, Aug. 07, 2013

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