Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What is an Absolute Divorce?”
For years, people fought for gay couples to have the right to marry. States took action independently, slowly but consistently expanding the number of places where same-sex couples had the same rights as their opposite-sex counterparts. Then the Supreme Court weighed in a few years back and sped up the process nationally, making gay marriage legal across the U.S. Now that the right to marry is universal, at least here in the U.S., we may forget the push made by some states to reach out to gay couples, advertising themselves as gay-friendly places to get married. Some states advertised themselves in an attempt to attract lucrative tourism dollars, giving couples a chance to marry, while earning money for their state.
New York was one of those early adopter states, with a state legislature that embraced gay marriage years before the Supreme Court mandate. In an attempt to increase tourism, New York City made a special push for same-sex couples to come to the city to get married. The campaign was known as “NYC I Do” and was an initiative of the newly elected Bloomberg administration. The aim was to target gay tourists in places where gay marriage was prohibited in an attempt to lure them and their money to the Big Apple.
The campaign was a success, attracting thousands of couples to tie the knot in New York. One of those couples, Andrzej Gruszccynski and Wiktor Twarkowski, came all the way from Poland to get hitched. Gay marriage was strictly prohibited in conservative Poland, and a chance to come to the U.S. to make their relationship official was too good to pass up. The two were married in December 2013. They wore matching jeans and white shirts and had the ceremony officiated by the city clerk at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. Only a few days later, they flew back home to Poland.
Unfortunately, the happy story took a turn for the worse. By 2016, the relationship had soured and, just like with some heterosexual relationships, the love they shared appeared to wane. The two decided that they wanted to end their marriage and decided to file an uncontested divorce in Manhattan. This kind of case would typically be dispensed with quickly, as neither party is fighting over custody or the division of financial assets. Instead of moving quickly, a court clerk rejected the filing entirely, noting that the divorce cannot be filed in New York State as both parties are residents of Poland. This means that the residency requirement written in New York law was not met and thus the divorce request could not be processed.
The couple felt that this was a bait and switch, with the city eager to lure couples for marriage, but when things go badly, washing its hands of the divorce. They decided to sue the city as a result, asking a judge to intervene and grant them a divorce. A judge heard the case and agreed, writing that because the city married the men it must also provide them a means of divorcing. The judge noted that the couple accepted New York’s gracious invitation to marry, but that the state was now attempting to deny the couple and equally fundamental right to end their marriage.
The couple noted that if New York courts refuse to hear the case, then the couple will essentially be forced to remain married for the foreseeable future. Their marriage is not legally recognized in Poland, meaning New York, the state where the marriage was legalized, is the only one that could oversee its demise. The judge decided that such a result would be unjust and decided to waive the normal residency requirement. With the residency rules waived, the couple were then able to move forward with the uncontested divorce, granting them the same rights to divorce available to all legally married couples.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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