SAME-SEX DIVORCE: Will 1st Minn. case set precedent? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

SAME-SEX DIVORCE: Will 1st Minn. case set precedent?

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It might be a first for the state of Minnesota -- less than a week after same-sex marriage became the law of the land, a same-sex divorce has been filed.

It's not that the couple changed their mind quickly. They had been married somewhere else, but now that their marriage is legally recognized here, they can legally end it.

Attorneys admit it's uncharted territory, but other than the novelty of being the first gay divorce in state history, it's unlikely that the courts will treat the cases any differently than any other. Even so, there is no case law for the circumstances same-sex couples face.

Hundreds of couples anxiously awaited the Aug. 1 deadline and they flocked to venues in the metro to tie the knot. Meanwhile, Dawn Tuckner was waiting for just the opposite reason.

"I was so excited. I've been stuck in a relationship -- basically being married to someone that, we didn't live together, we had nothing to do, no contact -- and it felt like I was trapped," she said.

Tuckner and her soon-to-be-ex-wife got married in Canada in 2004.

"It's just like Vegas," Tuckner told FOX 9 News. "You go to the courthouse. You get your certificate. You go and get married. Boom, done."

Yet, ever since the two separated three years ago, they've been unable to get a divorce because their marriage wasn't recognized -- until last week.

"A mistake I made back in 2004, today it's still haunting me," she said.

Tuckner has since met someone new, but they've been unable to move on.

"They are, whether they like it or not, married," attorney Jason Brown explained. "As a result, before they can remarry, they need to dissolve that first marriage."

Just like heterosexual couples who opt for divorce, same-sex couples will find out that splitting up can be a messy business.

"This is a case where the litigants have a 9-year marriage that fell apart and they have been stuck, unable to dissolve that relationship in any meaningful way until they were recognized as a married couple under Minnesota law," Brown said.

Complicating matters, Dawn gave birth to a son through artificial insemination and her then-spouse legally adopted the boy. Yet, over time, their relationship deteriorated.

"We grew apart, just like any straight couple, just like any couple you know that have children," Tuckner said. "They do change things in a relationship. I just haven't been able to do anything about it. I haven't been able to move on with my life."

The couple might have been able to divorce in Canada or other states that recognized same-sex marriage, but residency requirements made added extra difficulty to that option.

Before their marriage was recognized in Minnesota, the issue started as one of custody. Once the divorce is finalized, Tuckner will still have plenty of paperwork to grapple with -- including changing her and her son's last name and getting her ex-wife to sign over parental rights.

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