Legal Loophole Leaves Same-Sex Couples Stuck In Civil Unions

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A number of same-sex couples joined by civil unions are having trouble getting un-joined, because the law hasn’t kept up with the rapidly changing social issue.

Now, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has agreed to hear a case involving one such couple from Philadelphia.

Freyda Nayman and her partner obtained a civil union in Vermont in 2002, but the relationship crumbled a year later. At that time, Pennsylvania didn’t recognize civil unions, so the court wouldn’t dissolve it.

Fourteen years later, the couple remains legally tied to each other. After Pennsylvania began recognizing gay marriages, Nayman filed a petition with family court, which handles divorces, but it was dismissed because family court doesn’t have jurisdiction over civil unions.

“They say on the one hand it’s too much like a marriage and on the other it’s not enough like a marriage,” says Thomas Ude — legal director at the Mizzoni Center, which serves the LGBT community.

He’s hoping the Superior Court will decide who has jurisdiction over these civil unions:

“We’re seeking an order that the case be sent back to the family court with instructions to treat a civil union dissolution as a divorce.”

No date has been set for the Superior Court arguments.

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