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Residency requirements can complicate divorce for same sex couples

The last entry to this post discussed some of the difficulties that same-sex partners face when seeking a divorce. The piece discussed some of the financial inequities that exist due to the Defense of Marriage Act and the lack of universal recognition of same-sex marriage among the states. In this entry, New York readers will learn about other difficulties that same-sex couples face, but this time it is not about money, rather, it is about same-sex separation.

One increasingly common problem that same-sex couples face when filing for divorce is exemplified in the following story. The story involves a couple that married in Massachusetts shortly after the state legalized same-sex marriage. Approximately four years ago, while living in Dallas, the couple sought a divorce. In Texas, however, neither domestic partnerships nor same-sex marriage is legally recognized, and because of that the petition for divorce was ultimately denied by the court.

This is an important issue since residency requirements for filing can make it difficult for some couples to even return to the place they were married to obtain a divorce. In New York, for example, there are very strict residency requirements. Because of this, same sex couples who were married in New York, who later move out of state, cannot simply move back and file for a divorce. This can be very burdensome, leaving some couples unable to obtain a divorce for years following the actual end of the relationship.

To file for divorce in New York a couple must either be married in New York or live in New York and at least one party must be a New York resident for one year before filing; or the cause of the divorce, such as adultery or abandonment, must occur in New York and the couple has to have lived as husband and wife in New York when the divorce action was commenced. Otherwise, either party must be a New York resident for at least two years prior to commencing the filing for divorce.

Source: The Dallas Voice, "4 years later, divorce seeking gay Dallas couple J.B. and H.B. remain in 'limbo'," John Wright, January 16, 2013

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