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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.

27 Comments on “Out of State Same-Sex Divorce in Massachusetts

  1. If a same-sex couple gets married in another state, will Massachusetts grant them a divorce?

  2. do you know if NY will grant a same-sex divorce to those married in Massachusetts?

  3. So what if neither party resides in Massachusetts but the grounds for divorce occurred in Massachusetts? Then will Massachusetts grant a divorce?

  4. What if a couple was married in Hawaii when it was legal and never resided there…is the marriage null and void since they only allow civil unions now? What if the law changes, are they then married again?

  5. Married in Mass in 2004 and moved to AZ in 2005. AZ does not recognize marriage or domestic partnership. Marriage broke down in 2008 and we have been wanting to divorce so we can move on with our lives. What are our options? Do one of us really need to move back to MA to make this happen?

  6. wow, I got married in Mass 7 years ago. After 13 years we are separating and we need a divorce. We reside in Florida. What are my options besides moving to Mass for one year.

  7. My ex and i live in Maine and got married in mass in 2009. We aren’t together anymore. I live in Florida now. What are my options besides moving to mass?

  8. Had a civil union in Vermont and then married in Massachusetts. Had the civil union dissolved in Vermont…is the marriage in Massachusetts also dissolved?

  9. state of WV. will NOT give Gays a divorce, married in Mass. in 2008

  10. I was married in MA and then moved and became a resident of PA. Do courts in MA require anything to prove 1 yr. residency to file for divorce or only if partner contests it? Also, with the residency requirement of 1 yr. and once I file am I free to accept a job and move from MA or do I need to wait for the court date and/or for the divorce to be final.

  11. Is this still the case in 2012? We were married in August ’10 in MA while on vacation and live in CA. Can we never get divorced unless the law changes?

  12. You will have to check with a divorce attorney in CA. CA is unique in that it allowed same-sex marriage for a short period of time but then overturned it. However, in doing so, they created a group of people who were married during that time and they have continued to recognize those marriages. It might be that CA will recognize a same-sex marriage from another state for the purpose of divorce.

    Check with local counsel.

  13. What if their in a different country but you are in ma?? Divorce???

  14. Do you know if maine will issue a same sex divorce?

  15. I was married in Massachusetts in 2009 and now live in Texas and can’t get a divorce. Is moving to Massachusetts for a year my only option? Or can I move to a different state which will allow same-sex divorce? If so do you happen to know any of these states? Massachusetts gets really cold in the winter months.

  16. married in ma in 09. we both reside in illinois and have been grandfathered into a civil union… can we dissolve the union here?

  17. what about ohio? can i get divorced here from same-sex marriage? plus she is not in U.S anymore. i want to get married to a man now. do i really need to get divorced?

  18. I got married in Quebec, can I get divorced in Mass after living there for a year??

  19. Married in MA ’09, ex lives in UT, I live in VA. What options do I have to dissolve this union?

  20. i got married in salem mass in april of 09. i lived in maine and still leave here. is there a way to get a divorce with out having to move back to mass which i cant afford

  21. The states that allow anyone to get married without residency requirements need to allow those same people to get a divorce without residency requirements.

  22. I was looking into this for former residents of Massachusetts that moved to Texas. Illinois allows former residents in civil unions from Illinois to divorce in Illinois even if they leave the state. Unfortunate that Massachusetts doesn’t have something similar. It ends up leaving same sex couples in a very difficult situation if they move out of state. I have some information about Illinois same-sex civil unions at .

  23. I got married to my wife in MA in 2012. Relationship has dissolved and need a divorce. What exactly are my options here. Need to get out of an extremely controlling marriage.

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