Posted by: bridget | 23 November 2006

Same-Sex Divorce

In Rhode Island, a gay couple married in Massachusetts has now filed for divorce.  The big question is whether or not the Rhode Island court has jurisdiction to hear the case, as Rhode Island prohibits same-sex marriage but recognizes the Massachusetts union. 

On one side, you have Full Faith and Credit; on the other side, FF&C can be overturned when it is contrary to public policy in that state.  Ideally, the Rhode Island (and other) courts will treat this like the marriage and divorce of minors, where the divorce state has a higher minimum age requirement than the marriage state.  (When other age issues occur, such as with driver’s licenses, FF&C applies as well.) 

Long-term, the big issues will happen if a state legalises polygamy.  Given that the legal issues there are fundamentally different than those in two-person marriages (is the marriage dissolved with respect to all three?  What if that results in a same-sex union? What about prenups between two people but not the third?  Child support?  Visitation?  Dividing assets based on length of marriage?  Consent of all partners to subsequent marriages and issues with dividing assets of those who didn’t consent to subsequent marriages, etc.), states that don’t legalise polygamy will have an impossible time giving divorces using laws designed for two-person marriages.  The potential for chaos is endless.

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