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Same-sex marriage legal in Florida; what about divorce?

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Florida. Yesterday, a stay on a federal judge’s decision that the state’s gay marriage bans violate the federal constitution expired, essentially putting the judge’s decision to overturn the bans into effect.

However, questions still remain over whether the state courts will grant same-sex divorces to couples who decide that their unions are no longer working. 

It seems obvious that courts would need to recognize same-sex divorce after same-sex marriage becomes legal in the state, but the Tampa Tribune reported that a case involving a gay couple fighting for the right to divorce is still pending.

As an attorney who represents one of the women in the case explained to the Tampa Tribune that “[i]t would not make sense for the clerks to issue marriage licenses that the courts do not recognize,” but “the state courts may want to make up their own mind on the merits.”

Just two weeks ago, a state appellate court denied another same-sex divorce case in which a couple was married in one of the other states that recognize gay marriage. The 3rd District Court of Appeal in South Florida ruled that “one cannot dissolve a marriage where there is not a marriage to dissolve.”

However, there are some jurisdictions in the state that have been granting same-sex divorces, namely a Broward Circuit judge who has approved multiple same-sex divorce cases.

Ultimately, since same-sex marriage is now legal in Florida it seems that the legality of same-sex divorce should be moot, but only time will tell how courts will proceed.

Anyone who is seeking to end a same-sex marriage should speak with an experienced family law attorney for legal advice. 

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