The discussion about gay marriage must be accompanied with the discussion about gay divorce. While, according to NBC News, married gay couples divorce only half as often as straight couples, (so far) there are still many gay couples who wish the end their union. Gay divorces encompass the same issues that straight divorces do, including custody issues, property division, and child support. However, due to the fact that gay marriage is not legal in some states (including Virginia), gay couples who wish to get a divorce face a host of other issues as well.
Gay Marriage and Virginia
According summarized in a recent The Atlantic Wire story, as of September of this year, only thirteen states recognized gay marriage. However, active legal cases challenging bans have been filed in the courts of 18 other states.
Virginia has banned gay marriage officially since the year 2006. A high profile case, brought in Norfolk Circuit Court may change that, however. The case challenges Virginia law that denies any recognition of gay marriages that take place in states where they are legal. According to the report, the constitutional challenge makes Virginia “moderately likely” to legalize gay marriage in the near future. In fact, a May 2013, poll showed that 56 percent of Virginians believe in legalizing gay marriage, while only 33 percent do not.
Gay Divorces in Virginia and Other States that Ban Gay Marriage
The NBC News report sheds light on some of the issues that gay married couples face when seeking a divorce in states that do not recognize gay marriage. The main issue is that states that do not recognize gay marriage, such as Virginia, simply do not grant gay divorces. This means that in order to get a divorce, a gay couple would need to move to a state that does recognize gay marriages, and fulfill residency requirements for the courts to have jurisdiction over the divorce. However, the plot may thicken because some states have more onerous requirements for getting a divorce than their home state.
Without the ability to go to court to get a divorce, and with the only other option being moving to another state, gay spouses are ultimately limited in what they can do to protect themselves while dissolving their marriages in states that do not recognize gay marriage.
Prenuptial Agreements in Gay Marriages
A prenuptial agreement may be one measure that gay couples can take to settle some issues upon separating, even if they cannot legally divorce. Prenuptial agreements are used to settle property and other issues in advance. With a prenuptial agreement, a gay couple who cannot get a divorce may be able to at least settle some issues, such as property and financial matters.
An experienced family law attorney may be able to provide insight into many other solutions to problems gay couples specifically face when they split up in states that do not recognize gay marriage. A family law attorney can also assist a spouse in obtaining a marriage in a heterosexual divorce, and can help a spouse understand the full scope of his or her rights and obligations. If you are seeking to get a divorce in Virginia, you should immediately speak with an experienced family law attorney. Contact an attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.