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The Right to Marry…and the Right to Divorce
Over the summer, I was sitting at an outdoor table, with beautiful flowers in a centerpiece and delicious food before me as a dear friend married his same-sex life partner.
At my table sat another gay man who is also a lawyer, and the conversation turned as it will to the question of the right of same-sex couples to marry. It’s been a big issue lately in the news, especially in the wake of a recent Michigan decision that it is still not legal for same-sex couples in this state to become a legally married couple.
However, I cautioned the attorney at my side that the right to marry also means a couple has to abide by the laws of divorce. It’s something that some couples don’t consider when they’re advocating for equal rights in marriage – there are equal rights in divorce, then, too.
The other attorney agreed. He lives in California and he realized that after the law there changed to allow same-sex couples to marry, he noticed an influx of clients coming to him to legalize their divorces. They could no longer just break up like they did in their pre-marriage days. They now need something legal to say their marriage has ended.
When you’re so focused on the fight to win the war, are you looking at the consequences? There are obligations that come with being married. One of those is that if you want the state to recognize your marriage, now you’re obligated to the laws of the state to end your marriage.
From a divorce attorney’s perspective, it doesn’t matter if spouses are same gender or different – issues of support, parenting time, division of property and more also don’t see gender difference. They loom large and they need resolution all the same.
It’s something to think about as we venture into this brave new world. With the benefits of any new, hard-won right come the obligations, too.
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