Same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States in 2015 with the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Before this ruling, same-sex marriage was recognized in 37 states, including North Carolina. This led many same-sex couples to tie the knot in one of these states, regardless of where they lived.
If you are a member of a same-sex couple considering divorce, there are a few things to know before starting the process.
Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce
Many people did not realize that legalizing same-sex marriage also made same-sex divorce legal. Prior to Obergefell v. Hodges, LGBTQ couples that were married in a state that allowed same-sex marriage found it difficult to pursue a divorce since many states have residency requirements to file for divorce. A handful of states allowed same-sex non-resident divorce, but the majority still required couples to at least have been married in that state. Meeting these requirements made same-sex divorce more difficult than heterosexual divorce.
There was also the issue of civil unions. A civil union is a legally recognized union between same-sex couples and, prior to 2015, many couples pursued them if they did not live in a jurisdiction that recognized same-sex marriage and/or did not want to travel to one that did. After the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage, a handful of states converted civil unions to marriages. In the states that did not make this conversion, a couple that got married now had two legal relationships to end if they decided to divorce. They have to dissolve the civil union before pursuing divorce.
While Obergefell v. Hodges made it easier to divorce in all 50 states, there are still a few challenges that come with same-sex divorce, especially if you were married before 2015.
Getting a Divorce as a Same-Sex Couple
The process for same-sex divorce is, by and large, the same as it is for heterosexual couples. Since LGBTQ couples now have the right to divorce in every state, there are no-fault and fault-based options to end the marriage. This is applicable whether you were married before or after Obergefell v. Hodges.
To file for divorce in North Carolina, at least one member of the couple must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing. In addition, the couple must be separated (living apart with no intent to reconcile) for at least one year before they are eligible to file. Except for very rare cases, usually involving domestic abuse, the state of North Carolina does not require any form of legal separation.
From there, you will decide which type of divorce is best-suited for your situation.
Going Through a Same-Sex Divorce? Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you need help navigating your divorce, the team at The Doyle Law Group is here to help. We’ve guided couples through divorce for over 14 years and always ensure you have the representation you deserve. To schedule your consultation, call us at (919) 234-5513 or fill out our online contact form below.
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