USA – a new precedence set by the divorce case of a homosexual couple from Poland

Jarosław Kurpiejewski, Attorney-at-Law, as an Of counsel  of the Law Firm Ilasz&Associates contributed to the adoption of a new precedence-setting judgment by the New York State Supreme Court.

The case concerned legal constraints  on the right of a homosexual couple to divorce. Two years before it submitted a divorce petition,  the couple married using an invitation of the New York authorities for homosexual couples to marry which was extended to  homosexual couples  from countries whose legal system did not allow it.

Prior to the issue of the precedence-setting judgment,  § 230 (1) of the Domestic Relation Law, corresponding to the Polish Family and Guardianship Code, prevented the divorce of couples if at least one party thereof had not been a bona fide resident of New York State for at least a year before the submission of a petition.

In lawyers’ opinion, this provision was discriminatory in nature with respect to persons who might marry in New York and, at the same time, without having the resident status, they might not divorce there. This was particularly important in the case where the parties might not divorce in their country of residence.

Judge Matthew F. Cooper who ruled in the case shared the view presented by the lawyers and demonstrated it with his precedence-setting judgment of 26 October 2017 by annulling the marriage of the Polish couple.

The justification of the judgment read that, in the opinion of the judge, having granted the right to enter into a legal relationship to given persons New York State might not deprive them of the ability to terminate it on the basis of the same legal system. Judge Cooper clearly stated that in the situation where the plaintiffs were unable to divorce in their country of residence the authorisation of the annulment of their marriage was  an issue of the fundamental  sense of justice and social equality.

The legal opinion prepared by Jarosław Kurpiejewski, Attorney-at-Law, concerning the reasons why the parties could not divorce in Poland which was submitted for the purposes of the trial before the US court played an important role in the case in question.

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adw. Jarosław Kurpiejewski
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