Same Sex

A New Meaning to 'Til Death Do Us Part: Some Louisiana Same Sex Couples Are "Wedlocked" After Marrying Out of State

EDIT: Since this post was originally published, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that same sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. As a result, same sex marriage is legal nation-wide and the considerations outlined in this post are now moot.

If you are in a same sex relationship in Louisiana and are ready to take the next step towards marriage, then odds are you are aware that Louisiana does not allow same sex couples to marry, nor does it recognize same sex marriages obtained in other states. But did you know that some gay and lesbian couples living in Louisiana who married out of state are now unable to get divorced?

Because Louisiana does not acknowledge same sex marriage, it makes a couple's decision of where to marry quite important -- and not all recognition states are equal when it comes to getting married out of state. While no one wants to think of end-of-marriage considerations while they are engaged and deeply in love, many couples do so when considering whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement, sign a declaration reserving the fruits of their separate property, or in the case of same sex couples, whether they want to be able to get divorced.

Gay and lesbian couples throughout Louisiana and other non-recognition states are now discovering that they are "wedlocked." That is, they are forced to remain married despite their desire to get divorced. In short, this happens because in the eyes of Louisiana courts, there is no marriage that needs dissolving and thus, no divorce to grant. Historically, all states have had a residency requirement that at least one spouse live in that state for a certain period of time before becoming eligible for a divorce in that state. So, unless one same sex spouse wanted to move from Louisiana to a new state in order to file for divorce, the Louisiana couple remained wedlocked.

However, certain states such as California and Vermont now have provisions that allow same-sex couples who married in that state to get divorced in that same state without requiring the residency of either spouse. Although at the time of their marriage, no couple plans to divorce, circumstances can change that may lead to the dissolution of a relationship. By carefully considering the location of their out of state wedding, Louisiana same sex couples may be able to avoid the wedlocked scenario.

Each state has different requirements and limitations when it comes to granting divorces to out of state same sex couples. While the United States Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling about the constitutionality of same sex marriage bans by late June 2015, until the issue is ruled on in favor of marriage equality, Louisiana same sex couples who are planning to get married out of state should do their research and consult an attorney for further guidance as to the benefits of marrying in one state over the other.


This post and any comments below do not constitute legal advice or form an attorney-client relationship. Please consult a licensed attorney in your state if you have questions regarding your personal circumstances.