British Columbia

Gay U.S. couples can't get divorces for Canadian marriages

Some same-sex couples from the U.S. who got married in Canada are running into trouble getting divorces, according to an Oregon lawyer.
Same-sex couples who were married in Canada may have a hard time getting a divorce. ((Andy Duback/Associated Press))
Some same-sex couples from the U.S. who got married in Canada are running into trouble getting divorces, according to an Oregon lawyer.

Gay couples have been flocking to cities like Vancouver with its large gay community since same-sex marriage was first legalized in the summer of 2003.

Several of those couples have since approached Oregon lawyer Beth Allen looking for a divorce, but Oregon doesn't recognize gay marriage, or divorce, so they can't get a divorce there, she said.

As well, a residency requirement in Canada's Divorce Act requires one of the two married people to live in this country for a year before a divorce can be granted, and those U.S. states which recognize gay marriage also have residency requirements for divorce.

The news almost always comes as a shock for the couples, Allen told CBC New on Friday morning.

"It's really a horror story for those who went up there hoping for a lifetime of happiness, wanting to break up, and having an extra layer of trouble on that dissolution," said Allen.

Don't get married here: lawyer

Rain Henderson, a Vancouver lawyer and expert on matrimonial law, says marriage application forms should include a new warning for same-sex couples.

"It just talks about you can't marry your uncle, your aunt, your brother or sister kind of thing. It doesn't say be cautious, because you might not be able to get divorced," she said.

Henderson has this advice for gay Americans looking to marry here: "I would say not to do it, because it is, at this point in time, such a procedural bar."