Please Don’t Get Married in Connecticut Unless You Live Here!

Every week, without fail, I receive at least a dozen phone calls or e-mails from gay and lesbian couples who do not live in Connecticut, have never lived in Connecticut and never plan to live in Connecticut.  In addition to not being residents of the Nutmeg State, each of those couples has one important thing in common:  they came to Connecticut to be married.

I should sign up for one of those 900 numbers just to take the hundreds of calls I receive each year asking one important legal question:  “If we got married in Connecticut but don’t live there, how do we get divorced?”  At $1.99 per minute, I might actually be able to retire while I still have a fully-functioning mind!

I’m sorry to have to keep saying this folks, but unless you live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, you’re stuck.  In order for a court to grant you a divorce (or legal separation or annulment), that court must have jurisdiction over you.  For purposes of a divorce, the court won’t have jurisdiction unless you are a resident of the state in which you seek your divorce.

Even though I’ve posted on this issue more than once, I continue to get hundreds of calls and e-mails from gay and lesbian couples who want me to give them a different answer.  Sorry, there’s no way around it.  If you got married in Connecticut and you want to obtain a divorce in Connecticut, you have to reside in Connecticut.  Period.

It’s a sad fact of life that not all marriages last.  Heterosexual couples don’t have to worry about what happens when their marriages end because they can obtain a divorce in all 50 states.  Gay and lesbian couples do not yet have that luxury.

So here are three words of caution to same-sex couples who don’t live in Connecticut but wish to be married in this state:

Don’t do it!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski

7 comments on “Please Don’t Get Married in Connecticut Unless You Live Here!

  1. KPOM says:

    What about states, like Illinois, that don’t have same-sex marriage but have civil unions, and recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere as such?

    • Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. says:

      If a state recognizes same-sex marriage, it will have jurisdiction over the divorce of a same-sex couple. Some jurisdictions have also determined that while they do not recognize gay marriage, they will recognize such marriages solely for the purpose of adjudicating divorces.

  2. Divorcing Dad says:

    As much as it pains me to say, I am going through the painful process of divorce. I’m struggling with the cost and I was hoping someone might have some advice on what options I might have.

  3. Matti Frost says:

    Wouldn’t this be true for any state that has marriage equality? For example, if I marry my partner in New York or Massachusetts, but we reside in a state that doesn’t recognize our marriage, and we later want a divorce, won’t we have to live in the state we were married in for X amount of days before we can be divorced?

    • Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. says:

      Matti,

      Basically, in order for a same-sex couple to divorce, at least one person has to meet the residency requirements of the state in which the divorce is being sought. You don’t have to divorce in Connecticut if you were married here — but you must be a resident of a state that recognizes same-sex marriage (at least for the purpose of divorce). Thanks for reading!

    • bwatson says:

      This is not always the case. For instance, I was married in California to my parter in 2008 and sadly we separated in 2011. We were residents of Texas the entire time and we were not sure what to do. In Jan of 2011 Ca passed a law that granted non-resident same-sex couples the ability to apply for a divorce in the same county they were origionally married in. Residency did not have to be established. Not all states who grant non-reseident same-sex marriages have followed suit, but as time passes and more divorces are requested, this may be the case.

      • Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. says:

        This is now true in some states, yes. Also there are some states that will recognize same-sex marriage for purposes of divorce only. It varies by state, as does a residency requirement. It’s always best to contact a lawyer in your state for the specific laws. Thanks for writing!

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