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Same Sex Divorces In Florida

Since the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, same sex marriages have been legal and recognized throughout the country. Florida’s ban on same sex marriages had been ruled unconstitutional several months before the Supreme Court’s decision.

The legalization of same sex marriages has meant that same sex marriages are recognized in the states where a same sex couple got married, and in other states that the couple may have moved to and settled. This also means that same sex couples can get divorced in any state where the spouses meet residency requirements.

However, there may be some unique legal issues posed by a same sex couple filing for divorce. While every divorce presents issues affecting property division and the custody of any children of the marriage, with same sex couples, these issues may be slightly complicated because of how the law has evolved.

Generally, same sex divorces in Florida are handled under the same principles that govern heterosexual divorces. Marital assets and liabilities are divided equitably, and in most cases, either spouse may be granted child custody, child support, and spousal support. However, child custody issues can be complicated if only one spouse is the biological parent of the child, and the other spouse did not adopt the child while the couple was married. As we have previously discussed, this can lead to the spouse with no biological or legal connection to the child being denied custody for lack of standing to seek custody through court.

With property division, depending on when the couple got married, the property may or may not be jointly owned.  Disentangling which property should be equitably divided as marital property for spouses who were together long before same sex marriages were permitted may be challenging. If the couple got married at a time when same sex marriages were not recognized, the property may only be titled in one spouse’s name, even though it was acquired during a marriage or with funds that would be considered marital funds.

How a court measures the length of a marriage may also affect other rights, for example the right to receive spousal support. If a court decides to award spousal support, the decision is partly based on the length of the marriage. It may not always be clear when a Florida court would consider the start of the marriage for a couple that was married in another jurisdiction and moved to Florida before same sex marriages were recognized. Whether the court recognizes the length of the marriage from when the couple was married in another state, or from when same sex marriage became legal in Florida could affect the amount of spousal support awarded, if any, in a divorce.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

Same sex marriages have only been recognized in Florida for about two years, and not every divorce attorney has handled the unique issues that may be encountered in same sex divorces. If you are in a same sex marriage and considering getting divorced in Florida, call contact an experienced and compassionate Boca Raton, Florida same sex divorce attorney at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for legal assistance.



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