Same Sex Marriages Ending In Divorce

Allowing same sex marriages is still a topic for debate in many states. There are a total of thirty-seven states in the US that still don’t accept same sex unions. Getting married to the person you love if you are the same sex therefore is a challenge if you don’t live in a state that allows for this union. Many couples opt to travel to states that do allow for same-sex marriage to be unified. If getting married is difficult for same-sex couples, getting divorced has been made nearly impossible for these couples. There are a lot of hurdles that same-sex married couples have to jump in order to get a separation.

Take for example a same sex couple (let’s name them Steve and Kevin) live in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex unions such as Virginia. In order to legalize their union, Steve and Kevin are likely to opt to travel to a state that recognizes same sex unions such as Massachusetts. They may choose to return to Virginia to continue with their lives. However, if they decide to get a divorce later, they wouldn’t be able to do so in their home state because their union was not recognized by the state in the first place.

Steve and Kevin therefore find that they would have to return to Massachusetts to get a divorce. However, they would not be able to get a divorce in the state if they have not established a legal residency in the state. Steve and Kevin would therefore find themselves in a dilemma as this would mean picking up their lives and moving to a new state to start over in order to get a divorce.

There are some states that require even much more than the establishment of a legitimate home within the state to grant same-sex couples a divorce. Some states may require a lot more paper work and other requirements to be fulfilled before they can grant the couple a divorce. This often results in the couple spending a large sum of money and investing a lot of time in getting a divorce.

Many same sex couples that would like to get a divorce are therefore opting to remain married but live separate lives than to invest heavily in seeking a divorce. However, difficulty arises when they end up in relationships with other people that they would like to marry but can’t because they are still in a legal union with someone else.

If you thought that getting a contested divorce is hard for regular couples, then it is a nightmare for same-sex couples. Courts tend to view contested divorces for same-sex marriages differently. The case will more than likely be treated differently from any other divorce proceeding.

Studies show that the divorce rate amongst same-sex couples is half of that of mixed-gender marriages. However, this rate is expected to grow with an increase in the number of same-sex marriages. It is therefore expected that the law is likely to catch up and accommodate the needs of these same-sex marriages.


Michelle Mitchell is a couples counselor in Massachusettes, working primarily with same sex couples seeking divorce.