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Gay Divorce Spotlights Possible Constitutional Issues

A recent gay divorce in Florida, the first in the state’s history, highlights a problem that may exist for many same-sex couples who have been legally married in states like California: they may not be granted a divorce in states where gay marriage is not yet legal. The judge, in granting the divorce, joins with other judges in calling Florida’s ban on gay marriage “unconstitutional.”

The divorce was granted in a Broward County court for two women who had been united in Vermont in 2002 in a civil union. However, the plaintiff had been unable to obtain a divorce in Florida for the past five years.

While the divorce does set precedent for judges to recognize out-of-state same-sex unions and to issue divorces based on the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourth Amendment, the ruling does not mean that Broward County must issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Same-Sex Marriage And Divorce In California

On June 16, 2008, California became the second state to allow same-sex marriages. However, Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment passed by the voters, suspended those marriages until the United States Supreme Court struck Proposition 8 down as unconstitutional. Today, same-sex couples can once again be joined in marriage under California law.

If a couple can legally marry in a state, the state must make provisions for divorce or dissolution of the marriage, as well. In California’s case, the courts can dissolve a same-sex marriage for anyone who was married in California, even if the couple now lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. However, if the couple does live out of state, the courts may not be able to issue orders for property division, custody or alimony. This depends on the laws of the couple’s state of residence.

What Should I Do About Dissolving My Marriage?

If you are part of a same-sex marriage that was performed in California and you are now facing divorce, it is important to have legal guidance, as the laws surrounding this issue are complicated. Contact the attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center for help.

The Men’s Legal Center has been helping men for many years who are seeking a divorce or who are facing issues of child custody and property division. These experienced attorneys can help you, no matter what your marital status or situation. Contact them today for a consultation to learn more.