Catch-22 of Same-Sex Marriage: Filing for Divorce in Pa. - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Catch-22 of Same-Sex Marriage: Filing for Divorce in Pa.

Can’t live with marriage in Pa., can’t live without it

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    Catch-22 of Same-Sex Marriage: Filing for Divorce in Pa.
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    Talk about a Catch-22:

    A Pennsylvania judge will not grant a same-sex couple a divorce because the marriage does not exist in the state of Pennsylvania.

    The couple can’t get a divorce in the state that recognizes their marriage, because they must be residents of the state for at least one year.

    Confused? Allow us to break it down: What Pennsylvania does not believe to be joined together, it will not put asunder.

    Berks County resident Carole A. Kern married Robin L. Taney in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, June 25, 2009. Less than four months later Kern filed for divorce, stating that the marriage was irretrievably broken, reports the Reading Eagle.

    While Massachusetts will grant same-sex marriage licenses to couples after a three-day waiting period, the couple must be residents of Massachusetts for at least one year to obtain a divorce.

    So Kern, being a resident of Pennsylvania, filed for divorce in Pennsylvania.

    But Pennsylvania law states, "A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth,” according to the Reading Eagle.

    Berks County Judge Scott Lash ruled that he cannot dissolve something that does not exist in his state. Lash compared the request to granting a divorce to a heterosexual couple that never married but lived together.

    "Without a legally recognizable marriage, relief under the divorce code is simply not available," Lash concluded.

    While Lash dismissed the petition for divorce, he left Kern the option to ask the court for a declaration that the Massachusetts marriage is void in Pennsylvania.

    According to court records Taney did not participate in the proceedings.