The Right to Divorce

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June 6, 2009


"When C.C. married C.M. in Massachusetts in 2005, they expected the marriage to be forever. The lesbian couple, who lived together on the Upper East Side, had been in a relationship for five years... But tensions set in, straining the marriage. There were health and financial issues, and the 'stress of a same-sex marriage.'

"...[L]ast October, in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Justice Rosalyn H. Richter granted [them] a divorce (using their initials in the documents), making it the first dissolution of a same-sex marriage in New York of a couple who had married in the United States.

"...[W]ith the attention long focused on the rights of gays and lesbians to marry their partners, the couples often don't consider the dark side: What happens if it doesn't work out?

"Susan Sommer, the director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, said that while divorce is 'a painful and sometimes bitter process, having access to the structure of laws determines how you pull apart one of the most financially intertwined relationships and also gives you a neutral arbiter, a judge, to help navigate.'"