Same-sex couples struggle to find legal divorce options in states where marriage isn’t recognized

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Same-sex couples are now grappling with the same problem many hetero couples deal with, divorce. But as one woman discovered, it can be difficult to get divorced in a state that doesn't recognize your marriage as being legal.

“The weather was great. It was December 27, 2013,” Jane Larison said.

That was the day Larison married her partner of four years in a civil ceremony in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

“We came home and I promptly got the flu,” Larison recalled.

It may have been a sign, because just five months later her and her partner's once happy relationship collapsed.

“It's irreconcilable. I need to move on,” she said.

But that's not so easy when you are gay and married and living in Kansas City, where neither Missouri nor Kansas recognizes same-sex marriage.

“A lot of people think the flip side of same-sex marriage is straight or traditional marriage. It is not. Same sex marriage, the flip side is same-sex divorce. Here we are,” she said.

Larison knows of only one same-sex couple who's been legally divorced in Missouri, and that was in Columbia. She said that divorce costs tens of thousands of dollars because of the fuzzy legal standing of a same-sex couple.

Larison was hopeful after a Jackson County judge ruled earlier in October that it was unconstitutional for Missouri not to recognize same-sex couples legally married in other states. But that ruling isn't the last word, there are still obstacles said Kansas City divorce attorney Allen Russell junior.

“Could you then file a divorce here in Jackson County? I suppose. Based on that reasoning, you could, but the issue becomes complicated if the Supreme Court later reaches a contrary decision.

A case is pending before the Missouri Supreme Court.  A decision could still be months away. That decision can't come soon enough for Larison.

“I need a legal way to end it so we can both move on,” she said.

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