Married Same-Sex Couples May Be Able to Re-marry Without Divorce — at Least in North Dakota

Even though same-sex marriage became a reality in New York in 2011, the laws of other states differ in terms of rights and recognition, with federal laws adding another layer of complexity. In other words, if you marry in New York, your legal standing can change in many ways if you move across state lines. In at least one case, it appears no divorce is needed prior to marrying again.

When a man in a same-sex marriage from another state applied for a marriage license to wed a woman, the county’s State Attorney requested a legal opinion from the North Dakota Attorney General, according to ABC News. He entered a formal decision that there is no need to obtain divorce from a same-sex marriage before marrying in North Dakota for the following basic reasons:

  • Since North Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriage, an individual in a same-sex marriage from another state can obtain a marriage certificate with someone of the opposite sex in North Dakota.
  • Anyone legally married in another state can represent themselves as single on North Dakota legal documents.
  • Any potential prosecution on grounds of bigamy in other states essentially has no bearing on this decision.

As more states recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, same-sex married couples can relocate more freely without legal concerns. However, they still need to consider the law before choosing a place to call home. In addition, you cannot always choose where you live. If an employment opportunity or other circumstances require you to move to a state that does not yet recognize same-sex marriage, you should explore any legal options that may be available to help preserve your relationship.

Seeking counsel from an experienced New York family law attorney can help same-sex couples understand the potential issues they may face when moving to another state.

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