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Is same-sex divorce legal where same-sex marriage is not?

People know that divorce will change their lives. It changes relationships with children, ownership of property and even relationships with other people. People who are unhappy in their marriage often go through divorce proceedings with this in mind, knowing that the changes can bring new beginnings and a fresh start. But one demographic of our country is currently learning that divorce may not be available to everyone.

Just because same-sex marriage is banned in Texas doesn't mean that there are no same-sex marriages in the state. Couples can be legally married in states such as New York or California but find themselves moving to a state in which same-sex marriage is banned. A Florida woman is experiencing just this, as she seeks to divorce her spouse whom she married in Massachusetts. The case has called into question whether it's possible for same-sex couples to get divorced in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage.

The Florida woman's divorce attorneys don't expect the judge to recognize or accept the divorce request, and they have already begun preparing a case if they need to appeal. They believe that the divorce would eliminate the marriage, thus it would fit with the marriage ban rather than violate it. The attorneys are no doubt encouraged by the fact that there have already been same-sex divorce cases in Florida and that judges in these cases have granted same-sex divorces.

While same-sex marriage is currently banned in Texas, it is not guaranteed to stay that way. Same-sex couples who were married in another state but now live in Texas, or same-sex couples who one day hope to be married in Texas, should consider what they would do if they one day decide their marriage should end. Even if gay and lesbian couples aren't married, experienced legal counsel may be necessary if child custody matters are an issue.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Tampa couple's divorce could challenge same-sex marriage ban," Leonora LaPeter Anton, March 29, 2014

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