With the start of a new year, the calls and e-mails from couples wishing to discuss divorce have started coming in. It’s not a new phenomenon. People often wait until the holidays have passed before they start asking questions about divorce. I suppose I could have chosen to post today on a cheerier topic but I’m just being honest. The inquiries are coming in and there are plenty of other folks out there trying to understand the divorce process.
Let me begin by saying that if - and only if – you or your spouse reside in Connecticut and have been a resident of this state for at least 12 months, Connecticut’s courts will have jurisdiction to adjudicate your divorce. If you live in another state but were married in Connecticut, you can’t obtain a divorce in this state, no matter how much you want to do so. Connecticut may have married you but unless you are a resident, it has no jurisdiction over your divorce.
That may present a problem for some couples. If you don’t live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage (at least for the purposes of granting a divorce), you are stuck. The only thing to do is move to the nearest state that does recognize same-sex marriage. Each state has its own residency requirements, so you’d be wise yo check out the rules before making a move.
I’ll ask again, as I so often do in this space … please don’t call or e-mail me for advice on how to obtain a divorce in another state. I am licensed to practice law in Connecticut and cannot speak to you about the laws of another state. Please don’t call to say that you were married in Connecticut but don’t live here and want to speak to me about how to obtain a divorce. I’ve already explained that Connecticut can’t divorce you unless you are a resident.
If you own property in Connecticut but don’t actually reside here, you are not a resident. If you have a post office box in Connecticut but don’t actually live here, you are not a resident. You are a resident of the state in which you are registered to vote, pay your taxes, register your cars and obtain your drivers license.
Until all 50 states recognize same-sex marriage, this dilemma will continue for same-sex couples. It’s not fair. It’s discriminatory. It’s reality for now and it just plain stinks.
If you DO reside in Connecticut and are considering a divorce, you are welcome to download my complimentary brochure, The Divorce Process in Connecticut. For information specific to same-sex couples, I invite you to check out my website section on Dissolution (Divorce) of Same-Sex Marriages & Civil Unions Legal Separation & Annulment in Connecticut. Finally, you might want to check out some of my earlier posts on this blog about same-sex divorce.
If you reside in a state other than Connecticut and are looking for a lawyer to help you with your divorce, you might call the local bar association for a referral. If you are looking for a lawyer who specifically works with same-sex couples, you might contact GLAD (Eastern U.S.) or Lambda Legal (Western U.S) for a referral.
It’s important to understand your rights in divorce and to understand the divorce process itself. A conversation with a divorce attorney can help to put your mind at ease.
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copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.