Last week, millions of Americans celebrated the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision to uphold same-sex marriage. Instead of allowing states to make their own laws regarding the unions, couples can now have their marriages recognized by the federal government in all 50 states.
With marriage and the rights it affords — from filing joint income taxes to transferring property if one spouse dies — also comes the right to divorce. This is good news for same-sex couples who were married in one state but lived in another and were then subject to a legal gray area when it came to splitting up.
As a result, some couples are celebrating the right to marry by hiring a divorce attorney.
One couple in Dayton, OH, has split after just under five years of marriage. Ohio had previously had a statewide ban on same-sex marriage before the ruling.
In Clarksville, TN, a former town resident named Taramarie Gulledge has filed what the town believes to be the first paperwork in Tennessee to seek a divorce from her partner on Friday just before the courthouse closed.
The couples had legally married in Shelbyville, IN, last June, but because they were residents in Tennessee, where same-sex marriage was banned, they could not legally divorce.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, at least one partner would have had to move to a state that recognized same-sex marriage and establish residency. That process can take at least six months and would have greatly slowed down the divorce proceedings, whereas a heterosexual couple is automatically granted the right to divorce.
Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples can decide they want a divorce for a number of reasons. Among straight married couples surveyed, for instance, the most common reason for a split was “lack of commitment,” cited as a major factor in 73% of all divorces.
It also allows couples to split if one partner feels unsafe. That was Gulledge’s claim when she talked to lawyers about getting a divorce.
Now Gulledge, and other Americans in same-sex unions, have the right to marry and divorce in any state. This not only saves time but also money, as couples no longer have to deal with restrictions depending on their state’s laws.
Gulledge, who lived with her wife and two-year-old in Clarksville up until May, also has the ability to argue for child custody, if necessary.
Tennessee residents, like those in many other states, still have to meet the six-month residency requirement in order to divorce, no matter whom they are married to.