While many states, including Florida, have outlawed same-sex unions, there are 17 states where gay marriages are legally recognized. Many couples have chosen to go to one of these states in order to get married. For those who do not live in states where those unions are legal, it can complicate divorce issues should they decide to split.
Two Hillsborough County women are finding out first-hand the types of difficulties same-sex couples may face when trying to divorce in a state that does not recognize their union. Although the women have reportedly already reached a settlement agreement, their petition could potentially be rejected because of the state’s marriage ban. Attorneys representing one of the women, however, argue that requesting an end to the marriage is not a violation of the ban. If the judge dismisses or rejects the case, they could choose to file an appeal.
The women were married in Massachusetts, but have lived in Tampa since 2011. In order to be granted a divorce in that state, they would both be required to live there for one year. Since they are both established in Florida, moving is not a feasible option for either of them.
For same-sex and opposite-sex couples, there can be a number of complexities that may arise during a divorce. On top of the emotions that are often at play, this can only serve to make the process more difficult. Working with an attorney is one way to help alleviate some of your stress during this time and ensure that your rights are upheld.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Tampa couple’s divorce could challenge same-sex marriage ban,” Leonora LaPeter Anton, March 24, 2014