Wedlocked No More – If You Married in Canada

One of the nastiest problems facing same-sex couples has been the inability to get divorced – called “wedlocked.”  This can happen when a couple travels to a state (or country) that allows same-sex couples to marry – even if they live elsewhere, and then the couple breaks up.  Many folks don’t know that most jurisdictions have a residency requirement for getting divorced, to prevent spouses from fleeing from one state to another one to avoid heavier financial obligations upon divorce.  This isn’t a problem for straight couples – they can get divorced wherever they live.  But if you live in a non-recognition state there’s a decent chance the courts there won’t grant you a divorce, asserting that this would be a form of recognition of your same-sex marriage.  It’s totally illogical to me, but so it goes.

Recognizing this problem, several states (including D.C. and California) have implemented statutes that say if you got married in their jurisdiction and live in a recognition state, you can get a divorce in the place you married, even if you are not living there at the time of the break-up.  Canada has finally, after several years of prodding by many activists, enacted similar legislation.  This means that if you married in Canada and live in a state that won’t grant you a divorce, you can get “unlocked” from being “wedlocked” without having to move to Canada.

One arena of uncertainty involves money, property or custody disputes.  Most likely you will need to work these out in a negotiation, and if that’s not possible, submit them to a local court.  However, that court may not treat you as a married person, and so you might not get the alimony or property settlement you think you’re entitled to.  But at least you won’t be forced to stay married to your ex forevermore.

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One Response to “Wedlocked No More – If You Married in Canada”

  1. Steve Branton Says:

    So is the takeaway to consider getting married in one of the registration states that allow for couples no longer living in that state to still get a divorce…? Not the most romantic reason to plan a wedding in CA or DC.

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