Same Sex Divorce in Minnesota – Part 2

Posted by & filed under Same Sex Divorce.

As a followup to my November blog post about gay divorce, it is interesting to note Minn. Stat. Section 517.03, which dates back to 1997, and reads as follows (note the italicized parts):

(a) The following marriages are prohibited:

(1) a marriage entered into before the dissolution of an earlier marriage of one of the parties becomes final, as provided in section 518.145 or by the law of the jurisdiction where the dissolution was granted;

(2) a marriage between an ancestor and a descendant, or between a brother and a sister, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood or by adoption;

(3) a marriage between an uncle and a niece, between an aunt and a nephew, or between first cousins, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, except as to marriages permitted by the established customs of aboriginal cultures; and

(4) a marriage between persons of the same sex.

(b) A marriage entered into by persons of the same sex, either under common law or statute, that is recognized by another state or foreign jurisdiction is void in this state and contractual rights granted by virtue of the marriage or its termination are unenforceable in this state.

It is also interesting to note Minn. Stat. Section 517.20 (italicized in its entirety):

Except as provided in section 517.03, subdivision 1, paragraph (b), all marriages contracted within this state prior to March 1, 1979 or outside this state that were valid at the time of the contract or subsequently validated by the laws of the place in which they were contracted or by the domicile of the parties are valid in this state.

Section 517.20, which dates back to the late seventies, modified the requirements for marriage licenses, and “grandfathered in” all previous Minnesota marriages and all valid out-of-state marriages.  It is interesting to note (and frankly, somewhat troubling) that the 1997 legislature not only banned gay marriage but pre-empted the “grandfathering” of out-of-state gay marriages.

Aside from the politically charged issue of strictly limiting the defininition of marriage, the legislation creates problems for cohabiting couples, their children, their attorneys, family court judges and other related professionals.  If gay couples marry elsewhere, move to Minnesota, and then break up, their children do not deserve the uncertainty that is brought about by not falling within the purview of typical family law cases.  Nor does the financially dependent party to the breakup deserve the uncertainty involved in co-ownership of homes, cars, bank accounts and the co-responsibility on mortgages, leases, debts and credit cards.

There will necessarily be some progress and evolution in the enforcement and amendment of these laws, and the promulgation of other laws, to address these situations over time.

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