This year, the Minnesota Legislature took the historic step to legalize gay marriage in our state. This cleared the way for thousands of gay couples to finally tie the knot here in their home state, but it also introduced a number of complicated legal issues. In Minnesota, as in other states across the nation, gay divorce comes hand-in-hand with gay marriage.
That’s not to say gay divorces are more common – In fact, they’re not. So far, the divorce rate for same-sex couples is half of what it is in traditional marriages. But the nature of same-sex divorce – legal in some states, illegal in others – can lead to issues with gay divorce that do not exist in traditional marriages.
In particular, same-sex couples often have trouble divorcing in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. For example, a couple who lives in Virginia, where same-sex marriage is illegal, could travel to Massachusetts to get married. If they wish to get divorced, however, they can’t do it in their home state. They may have to establish residency in a state that recognizes gay marriage in order to obtain a divorce.
Minnesota is actually a leader in the fight against this problem: Our state can grant divorces without any onerous restrictions on a couples’ residency.
Still, the problem can be assuaged somewhat by signing a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements, which are recognized in all states, can help couples to legally settle some of the thorny issues associated with divorce, such as property division. Though the agreement still will not allow a same-sex couple to divorce in a state that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, it can sort out the financial issues associated with the split, which helps the couple to move on with their lives after the separation.
NBC News, “Gay divorce: It may not be as easy as the marriage” Judith Messina, Oct. 16, 2013