Best and Worst States for Getting a Divorce


New Mexico and Mississippi are two of only seven states that, in cases of alienation of affection, give the cuckolded spouse the right to sue the lover of the other spouse for damages.

One spouse's having been an "idiot" at the time of marriage is grounds for divorce in Mississippi. In Indiana, two years of "incurable insanity" are sufficient.

In the age of no-fault, does anybody still opt for a for-fault divorce?

Yes, say experts, but it's rare and limited to situations where the divorcing spouse has some special point to prove—that the other spouse was, say, exceptionally cruel or a terrible provider. In 1970 California became the first state to offer no-fault divorce. New York, the last hold-out, has offered it since 2010.

Harry Gruener, head of the Family Law Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, says you'd be hard-pressed to find a single instance of for-fault divorce in Pennsylvania in the past 20 years.

Gruener says divorce in the case of gay marriage presents special issues. Most states still do not recognize marriage between same-sex couples. Some have gone further and declaratively defined marriage as legal only between a man and a woman. What happens, asks Gruener, if a same-sex couple legally married in Massachusetts splits up, with one spouse relocating to Pennsylvania, which does not recognize gay marriage?

The relocated spouse, he says, cannot get a divorce in Pennsylvania because in the eyes of that state no marriage exists. That spouse, Gruener suggests, would have to return in Massachusetts and re-establish residency there in order to get divorced. "It's a real problem for gay couples," he notes.

Kessler says some states that permit gay marriage, including Massachusetts, are now trying to assert that they have jurisdiction to grant divorce, no matter to what states one or the other partner may have moved.

As for a gay couple married in Massachusetts and divorcing in Massachusetts, Kessler says, the process would be no different from that required of a heterosexual pair. In either instance, he says, "Divorce is divorce," regardless of sexual orientation.

Gay or straight, are people really so devious as to plan years in advance how to get the upper hand by moving to another state?

"I see it every day," says Kessler. He cautions, however, that the approach can backfire: Judges look askance on venue-shopping, he says, so if the shopper's intent is discovered, the court may be prejudiced against him or her. Further, the judge may take pity on the deceived spouse, especially where entire family, young children included, has been uprooted to achieve the move.

What should a spouse do if he or she suspects a spouse is planning such a move? Be suspicious, counsels Kessler: "If you're not getting along, and if all of a sudden your husband says let's move to Nevada--and you have no idea why--start thinking. Get some advice."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 14934693.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...