West Chester, PA 19380
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Obtaining a divorce for your same-sex marriage is a difficult issue if you are a resident of Pennsylvania. There are currently a patchwork of different laws across the country for marriage equality, with Pennsylvania being one of the states that still does not recognize same-sex marriages. Same-sex divorce, therefore, faces similar hurdles. However, laws are constantly being changed and precedents are being set – and one of those precedents could be your case.
Since our state doesn't currently recognize any form of civil union or same-sex marriage, it also doesn't grant same-sex divorces for marriages or civil unions a couple obtains in other states. This is due to the 1996 revision of Pennsylvania law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman in order to explicitly exclude same-sex couples from Pennsylvania marriage.
Additionally, a Berks County court refused in 2010 to grant a divorce to a Pennsylvania same-sex couple who married in Massachusetts on the grounds that it would have to recognize the marriage first, setting a precedent for preventing divorce to other married same-sex couples residing in Pennsylvania. This is problematic due to the fact that there are no residency requirements for marriage in the states allowing same-sex unions, but there are residency requirements for divorce.
One of the most troubling issues facing married same-sex couples seeking marriage termination while residing in states that don't recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions is the residency requirement for divorce in the state they were married in. Some states have begun to address this issue, but generally same-sex divorce is extremely difficult to obtain without meeting the residency requirement or waging a legal campaign.
Unfortunately, this can mean one or both of the same-sex spouses uprooting their whole lives just to meet the residency requirement for divorce. The residency requirements for divorce in the states permitting civil unions or gay marriage are as follows:
District of Columbia