Recently, the New York Senate passed a bill that will allow same-sex marriage in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was the one to introduce the legislation, which will also give same-gender couples the ability to divorce.

New York will join five other states in allowing gay marriage, and it is has the largest population of the six. State legal experts say same-sex marriages will also make it easier for same-sex couples to divorce if they so choose.

Even before the marriage rights issue came before state lawmakers, same-sex divorces had been legal in New York. The first same-sex divorce in New York took place in 2008.

Allowing same-sex divorces to be legal while marriages were not, made it difficult for same-gender couples to negotiate divorce settlements. With the advent of no-fault divorce and the new same-sex marriage law, same-sex marriage dissolutions will be treated the same as heterosexual couples’ divorces.

Legal advisors and gay rights’ advocacy groups say problems for same-sex couples who marry in New York will still exist beyond state borders. Gay marriages are not recognized in 30 states, and there are no clear legal lines in many others about same-sex divorces.

Unlike heterosexual marriages, same-sex couples often have more difficult issues with child visitation and custody when they divorce. Often one partner is a biological parent while the other may not have legally adopted the child yet. Only time will tell how family courts in New York will view child custody issues for same-gender couples who decide to divorce.

Source: Reuters, “New York marriage bill paves way for same-sex divorce,” Jessica Dye, 25 June 2011