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Maryland Supreme Court rules same-sex spouses can file for divorce

In a decision that could make ripples around the country, the Maryland Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex spouses can file for divorce even though same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Maryland.

The Court held that a lesbian couple's out-of-state marriage entitled them to a courtroom divorce. The couple was married in San Francisco in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California. When they requested divorce in Maryland (their new state of residence), the trial court denied it, holding that the Maryland Constitution did not recognize the marriage and that "to recognize the alleged marriage would be contrary to public policy."

The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed.

The Court compared the case to a foreign marriage divorce case: "Maryland courts will withhold recognition of a valid foreign marriage only if that marriage is 'repugnant' to state police. This threshold, a high bar, has not been met yet."

This case is the first of its kind in Maryland and will certainly not be the last. A law allowing same-sex marriage in Maryland is set to take effect next year.

If you are married to someone of the same sex and are considering divorce, this ruling means that the state's divorce laws apply to you as they would any other married couple. Of course, every divorce is unique and has unique challenges. Whether those challenges include property division, child custody / child support issues, alimony, division of significant assets or other factors, we recommend speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Source: CNN, "Lesbian couple can file for divorce in Maryland, court rules," May 18, 2012.

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