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Conflicting state laws over same sex marriage, divorce

Residents of Michigan are most likely are aware of the discussion surrounding same-sex marriage and that same-sex marriage is illegal in the state. However, what many people may not know is the legal battle many same-sex couples face if they were legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage and now reside in a state that does not recognize their marriage as valid. This is particularly complicated when it comes to getting a divorce and for addressing family law-related issues.

Civil marriage is a legal contract between two people, which contract comes with numerous legal benefits. In some cases, however, a marriage may not work out and results in a divorce. Either couple can initiate divorce proceedings but when the marriage itself is considered illegal under state law, seeking a divorce may not be as easy as one thinks.

For example, in one case a woman who was legally married in a state that recognized gay marriage encountered issues in the family court system when she tried to seek a divorce from her partner in a state that had not legalized gay marriage. According to her legal counsel, under the given circumstances her only option was to have her marriage voided completely.

Divorce is not the only legal complication same-sex couples face. Family law issues such as child custody and child support and related issues, which may be fairly straight forward in any other case, may get very complex in a state such as Michigan which does not recognize same-sex marriage.

In Michigan, there are currently fairly limited options for a same-sex married couple wanting to get divorced. There are no easy answers in such cases but a family law attorney may be able to give a couple an honest assessment of their situation, and potentially offer some legal solutions and options.

Source: Communities Digital News, "LGBT marriage, divorce, and overall legal chaos," George Nielsen, July 27, 2014

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