Same-sex divorce? Meet the couple about to call it quits

Same-sex couples can now legally marry — and divorce — under Australian law. Same sex marriage bill signed into law
Same-sex couples can now legally marry — and divorce — under Australian law. Same sex marriage bill signed into law

WHILE same-sex couples across Australia are busily planning their proposals and weddings, one Perth pair is set to become the first to divorce under the new laws.

New marriage laws that came into effect on Saturday prompted a surge of same-sex couples flocking to registry offices to register their intent to marry.

Those who had wed overseas had their unions recognised, meaning thousands of gay couples woke up legally married in Australia.

But rather than ending their wait to wed, at least one couple is using the long-awaited law to officially end their marriage.

Solicitor Maria Loukas and barrister Teresa Farmer have been engaged to act on behalf of a Perth woman who was married to her long-term partner in 2015 at the local consulate of a European country where same-sex marriage was legal, the ABC reports.

The pair later separated, but discovered Australian marriage laws would make it far more difficult for them to divorce than it would be for a heterosexual couple.

Ms Loukas told the ABC that her client had suffered being in a marriage she didn't want to be in.

"For her it's been about not being able to move on with her life," she said. "It's been about not being able to tidy up the end of something to be able to start fresh somewhere else. She's been held back in many ways."

The couple looks to become the first legally divorced same-sex couple in Australia.

In August, the United Nations found Australian laws stopping same-sex couples who married overseas from getting divorced violated international human rights obligations.

The decision was made over a case where an Australian woman who married her ex-partner in Canada in 2004, was unable to be legally divorced in Canada because she had not lived there for a year, and could not be subject to divorce proceedings in Australia because same-sex marriage was not legal.

Amendments to the Marriage Act that passed through Parliament last week and came into effect on Saturday, mean couples who had their unions solemnised overseas are now recognised as married, and therefore are eligible for divorce.

Topics:  divorce editors picks foreign marriage same-sex marriage

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