NY Same Sex Marriage – A Divorce Booby Trap for Out-of-State Residents

New York same sex marriage divorce lawyerI get calls on a daily basis from people across the United States who all made the same mistake.  They came from their home states to New York to marry their same sex partner, but now when their marriage is not working out they’re trapped.

Unfortunately, New York’s legislation approving same sex marriage did not come with any fine print.  Nothing was disclosed about what would happen to those individuals who wanted to get divorced in states that do not recognize same sex marriage and therefore won’t entertain granting them a divorce.

The scenario is all too common.  A same sex couple comes to New York to get married.  Their marriage fails for one reason or another.  They can’t get divorced in New York because they don’t meet the residency requirements to do so here and they can’t get divorced where they’re living now.

This sets the stage for one of two things to happen:

  1. The couple perjure themselves (i.e., lie) to the New York Supreme Court and claim that they have resided in New York State long enough to meet the residency requirements (which is illegal and not a good idea), or
  2. They are forced to move to New York and live here for at least a year (sometimes two) to meet the residency requirements

This is an extremely common problem leading to holy imprisonment not holy matrimony.  Couples are bound to the rights and responsibilities that come along with marriage.  For example, if one party acquired assets, property during the marriage, the other is entitled to equitable distribution of those assets upon a divorce.  If one cannot get divorced, then obviously this causes a serious problem.

The same is true for debt incurred during marriage.  This too would be seen as marital debt and would be the responsibility of both parties to settle up with the creditor or else either one could be a target for a collections action.

One temporary “band aid” solution to stop the bleeding is for the parties to enter into a separation agreement where the rights and responsibilities of either party during the separation are spelled out.  If both parties agree to sign a separation agreement, then as long as the agreement is properly drafted if either acquires assets or incurs debt it will be their separate asset or debt.  Again, this is not a dissolution of the marriage but it does serve as a creative way to work around the current system.

The bottom line is that we must press for a solution in the political and legal arenas that addresses the booby trap nature of New York same sex marriage for out of state residents who reside in states that won’t divorce them.

The New York court could potentially use it’s power of equity to infer jurisdiction to hear the divorce and render a judgment despite the parties residing out of state.

Time will tell how this will play out.  Possibly more states will jump aboard and recognize same sex marriage?  Possibly a federal law will be passed that deals with the interstate issue?

I am looking forward to pioneering this effort to find a way out for the same sex couples who have found themselves trapped in their marriages with no legal way out.

Gay divorce made easier by D.C. Council

Nearly two years to the date since the District started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, the D.C. Council is making it easier for them to get a divorce.

Breaking up is hard to do no matter where you live—but, that has been especially true for same sex couples who were married in D.C. but live in states where those unions are not recognized.

But, when their relationship hits the rocks—couples turn to Michele Zavos—she has become the go-to attorney for same sex couples looking to get a divorce.

Read More: ABC


New York Attorney General Defends Same-Sex Marriage

In New York’s political and social debate regarding the recognition of same-sex marriage nationwide, NY Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is stepping up to the plate.

Though federal law complicates the new legislation, Schneiderman, is determined to protect its legitimacy and enforcement. “We’re going to defend the law. I’m confident we’ll prevail,” he said.

Schneiderman is currently battling the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law, claiming that it is overstepping the states’ right to create marriage law. The federal law does not federally recognize same-sex marriage, and also says that states cannot be forced to acknowledge a same-sex marriage from another state.

The Attorney General’s defense may prove to be very helpful in New York’s battle. His success can potentially bring about more consistency in laws pertaining to same-sex child custody and divorce settlements. The current law, for example, limits where same-sex couples can live and receive benefits. It also takes away from the legal and psychological legitimacy of same-sex marriages and divorces.

Defending the same-sex marriage law in New York, he said, “We’re very confident that this (DOMA) is a violation of equal protection and it’s a violation of the rights of the individual.”


Sources: WNED and New York Times

Focusing on Your Child Instead of Divorce Drama

It is easy to get caught up in the anger and frustration that comes with getting divorced. One Dallas couple, however, gives us a little bit of inspiration.


Instead of letting the drama of the divorce get to them, the former couple, married for nine years, looked to provide their son with the best environment possible. “Once you get past the relationship ending, there’s a child there. That didn’t change when we separated,” Rivera stated. The former spouses discuss how to raise their son best, and try to agree on decisions such as those made about his education and bed time.


“We’ve split everything 50/50,” Rivera said, explaining their commitment to working as a team toward a common goal, “but he knows that we are both his parents and that’s not going to change.” She added, “We may have different styles in parenting, but we’re consistent and he has a foundation to work from.”


The former spouses pay close attention to their interactions with one another and try not to let other issues get in the way. They consciously work to avoid arguing and attend as many school functions as possible. Rivera explains that they “obviously” did not plan to divorce, but they still cannot forget their role as parents: “It’s not that parents divorce, but how they handle it.”


Read More: Dallas Voice

N.Y. Judge Dissolves Civil Union

A state appeals panel decided yesterday that a judge in New York has the authority to end a civil union entered into in Vermont. The panel’s ruling was grounded on “equity” and legally dissolved the union of Audrey Juanita Dickerson and Sonya Denise Thompson.

This ruling reversed a declaration by Schenectatady Supreme Court Justice Vincent J. Reilly Jr. Justice Reilly held that though each woman could be freed from the rights and obligations of their union, he could not dissolve the union. He reasoned that the state Legislature has not specifically allowed the termination of civil unions.

The dissolution provisions in New York Domestic Relations Law §170 applies only to marriages entered into in New York or other states or countries, and not to civil unions.

Justice John A. Lahtinen explained his opinion in favor of permitting dissolution, “In light of the recently passed legislation, we cannot say that the majority’s granting the relief of dissolving the civil union is inappropriate.”

Read the full article: New York Law Journal

First NY Gay Marriage, Then NY Gay Divorce

Ultimately, with more marriages can come more divorces as well as more pre-nup contracts to draw up. Vice President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Alton Abramowitz says, “A spike in divorce cases isn’t likely to emerge for at least five years.” This is when most marriages are starting to experience stress. He believes divorce lawyers in states that have legalized gay marriage have yet to see splits because the change is too recent.

Read More Here: NY Daily News

Legal Ramifications of Legalization of Same Sex Marriage

With a historic vote by its Legislature late Friday, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage since Massachusetts led the way, under court order, in 2004.  As the celebrations continued in New York on Saturday for the passage of the same-sex marriage bill many Americans feel as though the tide is changing with regard to this highly publicized  issue.

However amidst all of the hoopla and celebration, we must remain cognizant of what exactly this means for same sex couples, aside from the sentimental aspect there are legitimate legal ramifications. Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett, an economist and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has devoted countless hours to her study of the impact of same-sex legal marriage on same-sex couples. According to Badgett here are some of the challenges which same sex couples in New York can now happily avoid:

  • costs of supporting two households, travel, or emigration out of the U.S. for an American citizen unable to legally marry a non-U.S. citizen
  • higher taxes: unlike a company’s contribution to an employee’s spouse’s health insurance, domestic partner benefits are taxed as additional compensation
  • legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain some of the power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance rights granted through legal marriage
  • higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples have a member who is uninsured compared to 10% of married opposite-sex couples
  • current tax law allows a spouse to inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but an unmarried partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
  • same-sex couples are not eligible to file jointly or separately as a married couple and thus cannot take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly.

Read more about Badgett’s study here: Lezgetreal.com

Learn more about same sex divorce:  click here

New York Cohabitation Agreement on the Rise

Today, a new trend has developed where unwed couples who are living together are getting prenup-like agreements. Although these types of agreements used to be reserved for couples who were anticipating tying the proverbial knot, couples are now entering what’s known as a cohabitation agreement to protect themselves in the case their relationship goes south.

When you think about it, what would happen if a couple who were not married and purchased a home and then they chose to part ways? How would that be handled. The answer according to this article that was published on Google News by the Canadian Press, is a prenup-like agreement called a cohabitation agreement (or cohab for short).

The article states “cohabitation agreements can protect an unmarried person’s stake in jointly owned property like a house or a condo and guard against seizure for payment of spousal debt.What if one partner buys a house and the other furnishes it? How will the purchase of groceries be handled? If we break up and there’s no agreement, I don’t have a claim… The litigation between two people who own a house together and aren’t married is much more difficult than two married people who are getting divorced.”

It’s a very wise choice to have a cohabitation agreement if you’re an opposite sex couple not interested in marriage or a same sex couple who legally can not get married in the state of New York. A cohabitation agreement can protect your assets and shield you from being taken advantage of in the event you and your partner decide to split up. Without the rights provided by marriage or a cohabitation agreement you’re technically screwed.

The Law Office of David Centeno, PLLC offers free cohabitation agreement consultations. Let our experienced team protect you and your assets. Call us today at (866) 830-2064.

The entire article can be read here

Gay Marriage Advocates Are Optomistic About Getting Same Sex Marriage Approved

ALBANY, NY — The Empire State Pride Agenda, the most influential advocates for gay rights, say that chances are better than ever for the New York Senate to finally legalize gay marriages in New York State.

Although, New York strangely allows for same sex divorce, the State does not permit same sex marriage.

“Part of the group’s strategy includes arguing that gay marriages held in New York would add nearly $200 million to the economy and framing the question as a civil right. It also argues that legal marriage provides more than 1,000 rights to married couples, from who can visit a dying patient in a hospital to transferring property in wills.”

Our law office has handled all of our New York same sex divorce cases successfully and believe that same sex couples should be able to get married in New York State like anyone else.

Read the full article here:  https://online.wsj.com/article/APf7309463848f4564bc377894651165be.html

Experienced New York Divorce Attorney

David CentenoWhen searching for a New York divorce attorney be sure to interview numerous candidates.  Its important to find an attorney with the experience and skill required to represent you in your divorce.  Its also important that you feel comfortable talking with him or her and confident in their abilities to handle your divorce.

I dedicate the majority of my practice, The Law Office of David Centeno,  to divorce and matrimonial matters.  I pride myself in running a practice based on professionalism, ethics, client satisfaction and the highest caliber of skill.  I have the hard-earned experience needed to help you get through this difficult period in your life.

I have learned what to look for when working on a divorce, how to negotiate and try to settle the matter without litigation and how to try your case if it must go to trial.  As an experienced NY divorce attorney, I can advise you of the best way to handle your case.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced New York divorce lawyer, please call (866) 830-2064.