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How can Arkansas' same-sex couples divorce?

It is no surprise that same-sex couples in Faulkner County can't get married, at least not in Arkansas. For those couples who refuse to get married outside of Arkansas, that may mean looking for creative family law solutions to protect themselves and their families. For others, however, they would rather leave the state and get married in one of the states or countries in which same-sex marriage is legal. Once they return to Arkansas, some of them will realize they want to divorce, but how can they do that in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage?

Well, technically, they can't, at least not if both of them remain in Arkansas. Sometimes, one of the spouses will leave the state and move to a state that recognizes their marriage and will grant them a divorce, but this can be extremely complicated and costly just for a divorce. Other couples will file divorce paperwork with only their first initials, so as to appear like an opposite-sex couple. In many cases, this has worked, but often if the court finds out, it will revoke the divorce and the couple will be married again.

There are other couples who will look for some family law solution to protect themselves, many of whom will turn to a cohabitation agreement. This agreement forms a contract between the couple on how income and property is to be shared, if at all, and how it should be divided if the couple breaks up. Since the document is a contract, it can be dealt with just like any other contract when the couple breaks up.

Until there is greater acceptance of same-sex marriage in the United States, Arkansas couples will need to look for creative ways to protect themselves.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Gay Divorce: For Gay Couples, Divorce Equality Is Also A Trial,” Geoff Williams, July 5, 2013

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