Same-sex divorce barred due to reported polygamy

Same-sex couples often face a unique set of challenges when it comes to family law issues. Maryland same-sex couples may be aware that divorces are often blocked in states where same-sex marriages aren't legally recognized. Sometimes, however, other factors can cause same-sex divorce to be blocked. Say, for instance, one of the partners is allegedly already married.

That is the reason that another state's Supreme Court gave for denying the divorce requested in this particular case. One man had reportedly entered into a previous civil union with a third man in a neighboring state. Since that civil union had apparently never been dissolved, the marriage in the new state was never valid to begin with.

This can be seen as an unusual case since it involves a same-sex couple and two states where same-sex marriages--and divorced--are actually recognized. Both Vermont and Massachusetts typically do allow the dissolution of same-sex marriages and civil unions. But a key tenet of Massachusetts family law is that one party already being in a marriage cannot enter into a new marriage.

Maryland residents who enter into same-sex marriages might think that they are safe because same-sex marriage is relatively rare in our country. However, just like heterosexual couples, further due diligence may be required to make sure both spouses have not entered any previous civil unions or marriages. Otherwise, spouses could enter into what they believe is a legal marriage only to later find out same-sex divorce isn't needed because their marriage was never actually valid.

Source: Boston Business Journal, "High court cites polygamy law in blocking same-sex divorce," Eric Convey, July 26, 2012