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Top Maryland court to hear same-sex divorce case

The Maryland Court of Appeals will hear the case of a same-sex couple that has requested a no-contest divorce. Courts in the state have thus far refused to grant the women a divorce.

The couple was wed in a nearby jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage. After two years of marriage, the women say their relationship had become irretrievably broken. However, because Maryland does not recognize same-sex marriage, a judge ruled that the couple could not divorce in the state. Same-sex marriage was recently signed into law in Maryland, but it won't take effect until 2013.

The couple says they were already prepared for a divorce, having already determined how their assets should be divided. One of the women explained that she sat next to her partner during the divorce hearing, stressing that the divorce would have likely been easy and amicable.

Now, the case is headed to one of Maryland's highest courts. Legal experts say the ruling could set a precedent that all judges in the state would be obliged to follow, because marriage and divorce affects property ownership, pensions, child custody and other aspects of life.

While several same-sex divorces have been granted by Maryland courts, at least one additional filing has been denied. Regardless of the Court of Appeals' ruling, same-sex couples in Maryland could soon find themselves with more options because of the new law. The law, however, is expected to have to survive a voter referendum in November, however, before it is able to go into effect.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Same-sex divorce case heads to top Maryland court," Andrea F. Siegel, March 17, 2012

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