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Can Same-Sex Couples 'Divorce' in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, as in many other states, same-sex couples cannot legally marry. However, the fact that they can't get married doesn't stop them from creating a life as if they were married. Many Arkansas same-sex couples share a home, financial accounts and even businesses together. Some couples choose to have one partner stay home to raise children while the other goes off to work.

Unfortunately, just as with heterosexual couples, sometimes these relationships don't work out. However, unlike legally married couples, same-sex partners don't have the protection of Arkansas' divorce laws. This is true even if the couple was legally married in another state that allows same-sex unions.

As same-sex marriage becomes more common, many states are wrestling with how to best handle the issue of same-sex divorce.

Last week, the Court of Appeals of Maryland heard arguments in a case brought by a lesbian couple who had been legally married in California, but now wanted to get divorced in their home state. The trial court judge had denied their divorce petition on the grounds that the women's marriage wasn't legal in the state of Maryland.

In support of their position, the couple pointed out that Maryland has a long history of recognizing marriages that occurred out of state, even when those marriages violated Maryland state law. They believe that they should be entitled to the same rights as every other couple.

Property Division and Child Custody for Same-Sex Partners

Currently, the state of Arkansas does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. As such, it does not grant same-sex divorces.

However, this doesn't mean that same-sex couples don't have options. A family law lawyer can help couples seek equitable property division and child custody, regardless of whether they were legally married in another jurisdiction, had registered as domestic partners or were simply long-term cohabitating partners.

If you're going through a nontraditional family law issue in Arkansas, know that there are people who can help you craft creative solutions to your legal problems.

Source: CBS News, "Md. High Court to Hear Same-Sex Divorce Case," April 6, 2012.

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