Same-sex marriage and divorce in Massachusetts

Same-sex marriage has been one of the most talked-about topics in family law and among the general public the past few years. It is also very controversial in many regions of the country. Many state legislatures have debated whether to enact same-sex marriage bans, and some of them have either done so or are currently considering doing so. Other states have affirmatively legalized same-same marriage. In some states, the courts are involved to determine whether such bans are constitutional.

Another issue gaining attention is divorce between same-sex partners. At least one state, Maryland, recently grappled with the question of whether same-sex couples can get divorced in that state despite the fact that same-sex marriage has not been legalized there.

Same-sex divorce rulings could have implications for same-sex couples married in Massachusetts, where gay marriage was legalized about eight years ago and is generally supported, according to the Boston Globe. Massachusetts and same-sex couples have even filed lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, the Globe reported. This federal law, restricting marriage to between a man and a woman, prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

When couples cannot get married, they often lose out on certain government benefits available to married spouses. While state benefits might be available in states where gay marriage is legal, federal benefits will likely not be available unless DOMA undergoes dramatic changes or is declared unconstitutional.

Source: Boston Globe, “Mass. reaction on same-sex marriage positive,” May 9, 2012.