P&F Stands Against Hate

Category: Same-Sex Couples

February 17, 2022

Treatment of Vermont Civil Union as a Marriage for Purposes of Divorce in Maryland

Pasternak & Fidis

In 2020, in a case called Sherman v. Rouse, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had to decide whether a 2003 Vermont civil union, which pre-dated marriage equality, should be treated the same as a marriage for purposes of granting a divorce and related rights, including spousal support and equitable division of property. One aspect of the problem presented to the trial court was that, unless the parties’ legal status could be treated the same as a marriage, the Maryland court would have no authority to dissolve it; and, because the parties were not residents of Vermont, a Vermont court would have no authority to dissolve it either, leaving them in a rather awkward spot. The other aspect of the problem is that, unless the parties’ legal status was treated the same as a marriage, there was no basis for equitably dividing the property accumulated during their 15+-year relationship. The Court of Special Appeals held that the Vermont civil union should indeed be treated the same as a marriage for purposes of granting a divorce and adjudicating property division. It seems like hair-splitting, but the Court of Special Appeals did not say a civil union was a marriage; rather, it said that, because the Vermont law creating civil unions specified that parties had the same rights and obligations as parties to a marriage, including the right to a divorce and to share in property at divorce, the Maryland court should respect Vermont law and give the Vermont civil union the same effect in Maryland.


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May 25, 2016

Arbitration in Family Law Matters: Has Its Time Come?

Linda J. Ravdin

Alternative dispute resolution embraces a variety of processes designed to resolve legal disputes outside of a formal court proceeding.  One such option is binding arbitration.  In binding arbitration a neutral decision-maker, who could be a retired judge or a lawyer with expertise in the subject matter of the dispute, is appointed make a decision to […]

September 11, 2015

Estate Planning in Light of Marriage Equality

Anne W. Coventry

The recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges makes marriage equality the rule in all U.S. jurisdictions. Couples whose marriages will now be recognized in all states should give some thought to these estate planning issues implicated by the ruling: Joint filing is available for income tax returns—not only federal returns, but also state […]

April 1, 2013

Maryland Attorney General Opinion: Implementation of Same-Sex Marriage

Pasternak & Fidis

As a result of voter approval, the Maryland Code has been amended to provide: “Only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in this State.”  Same-sex spouses and couples in Maryland are entitled to the same rights and obligations under Maryland law as opposite-sex spouses and couples.  On […]

July 30, 2012

Maryland’s Highest Court Recognizes Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

Anne (Jan) W. White

On May 18, 2012, in Port v. Cowan, the Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously held that Maryland courts will recognize a same-sex marriage validly entered into in another state for purposes of granting a divorce. Maryland’s highest court said that its holding is in line with Maryland’s history of according deference to marriages validly performed […]

July 30, 2012

Common Law Marriage Equality

Anne W. Coventry

A common law marriage is a marriage that is entered into informally, without a license. Informal marriages have been abolished in most states, but they are still available in a handful of states and the District of Columbia. The required elements of common law marriage in DC are: (1) cohabitation; following (2) an express mutual […]