Same-sex marriage was legalized in New Jersey in October 2013, but it took until March 2014 for New Jersey’s first high profile same-sex divorce, when Bergen County resident and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir announced that he and husband, attorney Victor Weir-Voronov, are ending their marriage of just over two years.
Weir and Voronov wed on New Year’s Eve 2011 in New York City, not long after New York’s own lifting of its ban on gay marriage. According to reports, the pair did not sign a prenuptial agreement; Weir and Voronov have no children. In December of 2013, Weir was accused by Voronov of domestic violence, but these charges were dismissed last month by a New Jersey family court judge.
Johnny Weir confirmed in an Access Hollywood that he filed for divorce on February 12. Voronov, however, claims that Weir moved forward with the divorce without his knowledge. As he tweeted earlier today: “Yes. I’d like to confirm, It’s true: I am only now finding out that my husband @johnnygweir filed for divorce from me months ago.”
As the state’s first high profile same-sex divorce, many eyes will be watching to see how the divorce proceeds, and whether it tests any of New Jersey’s same-sex laws regarding marriage and divorce. Voronov’s attorney has already said the divorce will address “landmark issues.” At stake are potential disputes including marital asset division, including any real estate or joint accounts the two own together, and spousal support.
If considerable assets are at stake, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that either Weir or Voronov may question whether their 2011 marriage should be viewed as legitimate in the New Jersey courts. After all, Weir and Voronov married in New York at a time when same sex marriage was still illegal in New Jersey. If they do a little digging, however, they will find that New Jersey has already established that it will recognize legal marriages from other states, including same-sex marriages performed prior to October 2013. In the eyes of the law, unless either party could prove fraud or other grounds typically associated with annulment, it is highly unlikely that their marriage will be questioned in any way.
Given Johnny Weir’s celebrity, the other major issue in their divorce may be privacy. As same-sex couples legally marry, some will ultimately decide to divorce, the same as with all married couples. What same-sex couples may be unaware of are methods of divorce, including mediation, which allows for maximum privacy and discretion during the divorce process, whether or not you live in the public eye. It will be interesting to see if Weir and Voronov ultimately decide to take this route should they move forward with their divorce in New Jersey.
It is a groundbreaking case, and we’re following reports closely. Please check back for updates.