After Illinois passed its landmark Civil Union Act earlier this year, which allows same sex as well as opposite sex couples to enter into a Civil Union (a legal relationship that affords many but not all of the same rights of marriage), New York has now adopted a same sex marriage law. The significance of this law is huge. Now there are two states with major metropolitan cities in this country that have some legal form of same sex marriage.
The New York law is particularly interesting because now gay couples can dissolve civil unions in most New York counties and New York will recognize the civil unions as well as gay marriages of other cities and states where it has been legalized and provide a forum for the dissolution of those legal relationships. This is precisely what Illinois is now willing to do after the passage of the civil union act.
Now that parties will have greater options for the venue of where they go to dissolve their gay marriage or civil union it will be interesting to see what kind of forum shopping goes on. Because some states, like Illinois, have equitable distribution laws and liberal maintenance provisions in our statute, they may be more popular destinations for the dissolution of gay marriages and civil unions than other states which are guided by community property principles and have less liberal maintenance provisions.
This post was written by Thomas T. Field: Family Law Partner