Out of State Same-Sex Divorce in Massachusetts
Here are the facts: A couple who doesn’t live or reside in Massachusetts, comes to Massachusetts solely for the purpose of getting married. They are allowed to be married because Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to get married. They return to their home state where same-sex marriage is not allowed. Now, time passes and their marriage breaks down and they want to get a divorce. Can they get a divorce in Massachusetts?
The simple answer is no.
In order for a couple to get divorced in Massachusetts, they have to have lived here in the Commonwealth for 1 year prior to filing for a divorce OR the grounds for the divorce must have occurred in Massachusetts. Simply put, it doesn’t matter where you get married, it matters where you live that determines where you get divorced.
So what does that mean for gay couples who are married yet live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage? Several things are possible. They either can not get divorced or their state can be one of the few states that don’t allow same-sex marriage but will grant a same-sex divorce. Their last option is for one of them to move to Massachusetts for 1 year and then file for divorce here.
This definitely places a tremendous burden on same-sex couples but as long as the Defense of Marriage Act is in place, states can continue to refuse divorces for same-sex couples despite another state legally recognizing their marriage.