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With same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, so too comes divorce

It likely hasn't escaped many people's attention in Bucks County that a ban on same-sex marriage was struck down in Pennsylvania earlier this spring. And with the governor refusing to appeal the ruling, gender-neutral marriage is now the law of the land.

Same-sex marriage is gaining increasing support in the U.S. as a whole, too. In the most recent Gallup poll, 55 percent of Americans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, an all-time high. This is a significant increase from the 27 percent of people who believed it should be legal in 1996. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of adults under 30 believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, which is almost double the percentage of Americans 65 and older who think same-sex marriage should be legal.

So what will same-sex marriage being legal in Pennsylvania mean? Of course, it will mean that couples who have been together for years can finally legally marry. It will mean legal protections for couples who have devoted their lives to each other. At the same time, however, it will mean that same-sex couples who were married outside of Pennsylvania can now legally divorce in the state. It will also create legal rights that will need to be respected when couples try to divide assets and debts.

Up until this point, same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, married or not, would need to use various family law tools to uncouple (to borrow a phrase from Gwyneth Paltrow). Whether that was a habitation agreement or something else, same-sex couples have been relying on various tools to end their relationships for quite a long time. Now, they can divorce just like different-sex couples.

Source: Gallup, "Same-Sex Marriage Support Reaches New High at 55%: Nearly eight in 10 young adults favor gay marriage," Justin McCarthy, May 21, 2014

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