There is equality in divorce laws – Quad City Times

Q. Is it true that although there is now marriage equality, there is no divorce equality — that gay marriages cannot be annulled on the grounds of non-consummation (because that has not been defined for gay marriages) or ended on the grounds of infidelity (for the same reason)?

— Reader

A. We contacted the Supreme Court of Illinois and the Supreme Court of Iowa for more information on individual state laws.

Konya Lafferty, librarian for the Supreme Court of Illinois, Chicago Branch, provided the following information:

"Looking at the statutes, I see that the same rules apply in Illinois to the dissolution of marriage and civil unions. Set forth below is the wording followed by a link to find that wording (which includes the grounds for annulment) in the context of the entire statute:

"(750 ILCS 75/45)

"A court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of a civil union if at the time the action is commenced it meets the grounds for dissolution set forth in Section 401 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The provisions of Sections 401 through 413 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act shall apply to a dissolution of a civil union. The provisions of Sections 301 through 306 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act shall apply to the declaration of invalidity of a civil union."

To view additional information provided by the Illinois Supreme Court, visit

Mandy Easter, law librarian, Iowa Library Services, State Library - Law Library, Des Moines, provided the following information:

"Iowa Code chapter 598 is entitled "Dissolution of Marriage and Domestic Relations" and sections 598.28 through 598.32 have to do with annulments. There is no legal difference between annulling a heterosexual marriage and annulling a same-sex marriage in Iowa, so I would disagree with your reader who claims that there is no divorce equality in our state. Even heterosexual marriage annulments do not define 'non-consummation' or 'infidelity.' The decision about whether or not to annul a marriage depends upon the judge's analysis of the proof that the marriage was illegal and therefore did not exist according to our marriage laws, not that the marriage was a 'mistake' or the participants wish it had not happened. For instance, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that even though a new wife discovered her husband had served time in the state penitentiary and she did not want to be married to an ex-convict, the fact that the husband had purposefully hidden that fact about himself from her did not meet the criteria for an annulment.

"Section 598.29 is entitled 'Annulling illegal marriage-causes' and lists four reasons (the 'grounds') for annulling a marriage. A failure to consummate is not mentioned, although 'where either party was impotent at the time of marriage' is listed. Infidelity is not a legal reason to annul a marriage. Here is a link to Iowa Code chapter 598; just scroll down to section 598.29 to begin reading:

"Cases are searchable only if they are appealed and results in an appellate decision. I find no case law concerning same-sex marriage annulments in Iowa, which means that while there may or may not have been such cases at the district court level, none has been ruled upon by either the Iowa Court of Appeals or the Iowa Supreme Court.

"We are librarians here, not attorneys, so we are unqualified to interpret the law, apply the law to particular situations or provide legal advice of any kind to anyone. Your questions would be answered most accurately and most thoroughly by an Iowa attorney who specializes in family law."

There are additional articles on the subject that are very detailed. If you contact me via email at, I would be glad to forward them to you.

Source: Divorce - Google News

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