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Missouri same-sex divorces remain in limbo

Divorce is a complex activity for any couple. The emotional troubles and unhappiness of what went wrong with the relationship are compounded by the complex laws and procedural requirements that govern the divorce, and that is overlaid by the particulars of each couple's situation.

What are their finances like? Do they have sophisticated investments and own their own business or does one spouse have an irrational attachment to the family home? Do they understand the concept of the "best interests" of their child or children and are they willing to sacrifice their need to "win" every dispute with their spouse in order to see that their children thrive, feel secure and loved.

Now, on top of that mix, add being a same-sex couple in a Missouri, a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. While a judge in Columbia did approve a divorce for a same-sex couple this year, that ruling was not precedential and for same-sex couples in other counties within Missouri, it would be, at best, persuasive precedent, meaning a judge could follow it, if they found it persuasive, but it is not binding, as a ruling from the Supreme Court would be.

And because most states have residency requirements for divorce, unlike with a marriage, they would have to move to a state that permits same sex marriage and live there for the six months or one-year that many jurisdictions demand.

A case is pending in the Missouri Supreme Court that could create binding precedent for the lower courts of the state, and the U.S. Supreme Court also could rule on the issue, but that ruling is likely sometime in the future.

In the meantime, Missouri same-sex couples whose marriage has failed find themselves in a limbo that only adds to the complexity of their lives.

Fox4kc.com, "Same-sex couples struggle to find legal divorce options in states where marriage isn’t recognized," Linda Wagar, October 17, 2014

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