Divorce attorneys were surprised to hear that a same-sex divorce was granted in Wyoming earlier this week. Same-sex dissolutions of marriage can challenge the legal system, especially in states like Florida that do not recognize same-sex marriages.
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Paula Christiansen and Victoria Lee Christiansen were legally married in Canada in 2008. In 2010, a lower court in Wyoming dismissed the dissolution of marriage petition due to a lack of jurisdiction. In 2011, the state of Wyoming’s Supreme Court unanimously reversed the district court ruling permitting the same-sex couple to obtain a dissolution of marriage. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court made it clear that the court’s decision addressed only the issue of divorce, and that the state of Wyoming would confront the issue of same-sex marriage another day. The court relied on a state statute, which declared that “marriage contracts which are valid by the laws of the country in which contracted are valid in this state” (Billings Gazette). Furthermore, individuals in the LGBT communities believe that same-sex dissolutions of marriage are a step in the right direction.