Plaintiff: Livius Ilasz, Esq.
Matthew F. Cooper, J.
and exhibits considered in review of this Motion for an Order
Placing this Action on the Uncontested Matrimonial Calendar:
Motion, Affirmation, Affidavits of the Parties, Memorandum of
Law and Exhibits 1
Supplemental Affidavit 2
Supplemental Affidavit 3
24, 2011, New York became the sixth state in our nation to
permit same-sex marriage. By so doing, New York joined a
small group of jurisdictions extending the right to marry to
all people, irrespective of sexual orientation. Four years
later, the rest of the country was required to follow suit
when the United States Supreme Court, in Obergefell v
Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (June 26, 2015), declared
same-sex marriage to be the law of the land.
York's embracement of the equal right to marry helped to
make New York City, especially Manhattan, the marriage
capital of the world. The Manhattan Marriage Bureau, on Worth
Street directly across from the New York County Courthouse
and grandly refurbished in 2009 by famed interior decorator
Jamie Drake, was already a preferred venue for couples to
obtain their wedding license and have a civil ceremony
conducted by an official from the Office of the City Clerk.
But the advent of legalizing same-sex marriage only increased
the allure of being married in New York City, the
acknowledged center of the universe. On that red-letter date
of July 24, 2011, 484 same-sex couples married at the five
city marriage bureaus, with 293 of those ceremonies being
conducted at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau.
was not lost on city officials was that almost a quarter of
the couples married that day were not from New York State;
they were from other states or countries, most of which did
not permit same-sex marriage. This gave rise to a concerted
effort by New York City, through marketing campaigns like
NYC I DO, to promote New York City as a same-sex
wedding destination. The results were spectacular, with then
Mayor Michael Bloomberg issuing a statement in July 2012
announcing that the flood of same-sex couples traveling to
New York to marry - and, in turn, spending money on hotels,
restaurants and entertainment - had added more than a quarter
of a billion dollars to the City's economy.
plaintiff and the defendant are two people who accepted New
York's invitation to come here to marry. A same-sex male
couple from Warsaw, Poland, they had been together since
1999, but recognized that the chances of ever being able to
marry in their native country were minimal. In the face of
Poland's strongly entrenched opposition to same-sex
marriage, but desirous of formalizing their relationship in
the same manner available to heterosexual couples, the
parties flew to New York on December 3, 2013, solely for the
purpose of marrying. Three days later, on December 6, 2013,
they were married by the City Clerk at the Manhattan Marriage
Bureau. Immediately thereafter, they returned to Warsaw.
the fate of same-sex married couples is no different from
that of heterosexual ones: All too often people who marry in
love end up at some later point falling out of love. That is
what happened to the parties here. A few years after
returning home to Poland, they mutually decided that they did
not want to remain married to one another. But because Poland
does not recognize same-sex marriage in any form, the parties
could not turn to their local courts to obtain a divorce.
Consequently, they were advised by counsel, who has offices
in both Warsaw and New York, that they should file for
divorce in New York, the place where they entered their
same-sex marriage and a jurisdiction that grants same-sex
September 2016, plaintiff commenced the New York divorce
action. The complaint alleges that there are no children, no
assets to divide, and no request by either spouse for spousal
maintenance. The sole relief sought is the dissolution of the
marriage on the grounds of the irretrievable breakdown of the
relationship (Domestic Relations Law "DRL" Section
170). The complaint further states that both parties
reside in Poland.
the action was unopposed by defendant, plaintiff's
counsel attempted to place the action on the uncontested
matrimonial calendar for the granting of the divorce. The
papers, however, were rejected by the Matrimonial Clerk. The
Clerk entered the following notation on the file:
"Cannot file in NYS. Both parties reside in Poland.
Residency requirement not met."
the Clerk's rejection of the papers, plaintiff moved for
an order from this court permitting the uncontested divorce
to proceed despite neither party ever having ever resided in
New York State. The motion papers were later augmented with
affidavits from both plaintiff and defendant describing how
they traveled to New York City specifically to avail
themselves of this state's right to marry, a right not
afforded to them by their own country. They also set forth
their need to avail themselves of New York's no-fault
divorce law so that they can dissolve a marriage that neither
party wishes to ...