NY Divorce Laws: New York’s Marriage Equality Law (MEL)

Family Equality Lawyers Glasses in Queens, NYC

The New York Appellate Division, 2nd Department, based in Brooklyn, issued a ruling on November 15, asserting that New York’s Marriage Equality Law (MEL) should retroactively apply to a lesbian couple’s 2005 religious marriage ceremony. This decision influences the classification of assets acquired between the ceremony and the law’s effective date, July 24, 2011, as marital property in a NY divorce proceeding. Justice William G. Ford, writing for a unanimous four-judge panel, noted that this issue presented a unique case for a New York appellate court.

The couple in question, Robin Mackoff and Linda Bluemke, held a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony in 2005, officiated by a rabbi under a “chuppah” in the presence of around 100 guests. Despite living together as a married couple, the marriage lacked legal significance at the time due to New York not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In June 2011, New York enacted the Marriage Equality Act (MEA), allowing same-sex couples to legally marry. This law aimed to eliminate distinctions between same-sex and different-sex marriages for all New York legal purposes. The court’s decision considered the MEA as a remedial statute, addressing the denial of the fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples. Notably, the New York State Tax Department had interpreted the MEA as retroactive for couples proving their intent to marry, such as through civil union ceremonies.

The court acknowledged that the MEA did not explicitly address retroactive application but emphasized its remedial nature. Additionally, New York courts had recognized same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions as valid before July 2011. Combining these factors, the court found Linda’s argument for retroactive recognition of the 2005 marriage not “patently devoid of merit.”

The case is now returned to Justice Leo to determine the validity of the 2005 marriage based on evidence presented by Robin and Linda. Despite potential concerns about the length of time between the original answer and the motion for leave to amend, the court concluded it wouldn’t be prejudicial to allow the amendment. The decision explores the intersection of legal recognition, retroactive application, and the evolving landscape of marriage laws, showcasing the complexities faced by same-sex couples seeking acknowledgment of their unions.

Divorce is ugly and we all know it. The good news is that having a good attorney on your side can provide you with warmth, comfort and security in this difficult situation. We hope you did not have kids before the divorce, but if you did, we will try to help everything related to custody go smooth as well. Whether you are facing a contested or uncontested divorce you can reach out to our Queens Divorce Attorney today to schedule & fast & free legal consultation.

Aronov Esq Contested Divorce Lawyer 98-14 Queens Boulevard Rego Park, NY 11374 (718) 206-2050 https://aronovdivorcelawqueens.com