Des Moines, IA-The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to not hear any of the five challenges to state bans has many proponent declaring an unspoken victory for gay marriage. But legal experts believe by not taking up the issue the highest court in the land is creating more confusion.
Lower court rulings in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing just one of the five cases paves the way for same-sex marriage in a nearly 30 states, the Washington Post reported.
For same-sex couples this is seen as major victory, an opportunity for more them to enjoy the same rights as straight couples. And while it is a triumph for equal rights, the lack of a formal ruling actually creates a conundrum for same-sex couples when their marriage breaks down, leaving them without the legal right to divorce.
Relationships, gay or straight, break down; it’s an unfortunate fact of life. For straight married couples, a divorce can be easily be obtained; all they have to do is hire a divorce attorney if necessary, file the necessary paperwork, and wait the legally prescribed waiting period. But for a same-sex couple, untangling their relationship legally is not as easy as it seems and in can be nearly impossible. This what same-sex couples who flocked to states where they were allowed to legally marry soon learned.
Same-sex couples who wish to marry have no qualms traveling to state where they are legally allowed to marry. They tie the knot return to their home state and live out their lives as a married couple. But what happens when their relationship breaks down?
When a same-sex couple lives in a state where their marriage is recognized by law, their divorce is pretty straightforward, carried out in the same manner and a straight couple. But things begin to get really complicated when a same-sex couple lives in state where gay marriage is prohibited by law. Because their marriage is not recognized by the state, it doesn’t actually exist and therefore divorce is not possible.
Divorce in states where same-sex marriage is allowed can fairly straightforward, but the majority of these states have a mandatory waiting period. New York, for instance, allows same-sex marriage, but when a couple divorces they must wait the mandatory waiting period. For many same-sex couples this means uprooting their lives for months in order to just get a divorce or launch a costly and lengthy legal challenge.
Things get even more complicated when the issue of child custody arises and even adept divorce attorney will find it difficult to help their clients get favorable custody arrangements. Without the few legal protections of straight couples, same-sex couples are at a disadvantage when it comes to their parental rights.
Same-sex couples see the Supreme Court’s decision as a win, opening more states to marriage equality, but without a more definitive decision for the high court, the issue of same-sex divorce will be confusing and much more complicated than for straight couples.