Indiana to decide on same-sex divorce

1392509_rainbow_flag.jpgLast week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in states where such marriages are legal for the purpose of applying federal benefits. In other words, same sex couples that are legally married are entitled to the same federal benefits as married heterosexual couples. The Supremes did not, however, mandate that all states legalize same sex marriage but rather left that determination to each individual state. There are currently 13 states that allow same-sex marriage.
What impact will the Court’s ruling have on states that have not legalized same-sex marriage? We may soon find out the answer to that question. On June 26th, the same date as the Supreme Court’s decision, Indiana received what is one of the first same-sex petition for dissolution of marriage in our state (there was a petition filed in 2009, which was dismissed by the judge). The petition states that “The parties have been and are residents of the state of Indiana for more than 6 month as per statute. Although Indiana does not recognize same sex marriage, Indiana must give full faith and credit to this marriage which was duly solemnized in Massachusetts and hereby grant the parties’ dissolution of marriage.”
Indiana family law attorneys around the state have many questions on the impact of this decision. If the federal government gives full faith and credit to legal same-sex marriages, will individual states be required to do the same? In states like Indiana where same sex marriage is not legal, will they be required to recognize those same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere? Is there a “right” to divorce that must be applied equally to heterosexual and same-sex couples?