The Issue of Same Sex Marriage Dissolution to be Heard by the Florida Supreme Court

With many states now allowing and recognizing same-sex marriage, the legal issues that come along with marital status are becoming more and more complicated. This issue can come up when a same-sex marriage is recognized in one state, but not another. Recently, the Second District Court of Appeal was confronted with the issue of a petition for the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. The parties in that case were same-sex partners that were married in Massachusetts in 2010, but had subsequently moved to Florida.

In January of 2014, Mariama Shaw filed for a divorce in a Florida circuit court. Florida law declines to recognize same-sex marriage, stating that marriages between same-sex individuals entered into in any jurisdiction are not recognized for any purpose in the state of Florida. Therefore, upon receipt of the petition for dissolution, the circuit court dismissed it, holding that it did not have jurisdiction to dissolve a relationship that is not recognized under Florida law.

Apparently, however, some courts throughout the state of Florida have in fact allowed the dissolution of same-sex marriages obtained in other states. To further complicate matters, several county circuit courts and the 2nd District Court of Appeal have recently ruled that Florida’s prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Florida’s current law states that the term “marriage” is defined as a legal union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife.

With pending appeals in those cases, the Second District Court determined that its case was of great public importance and decided on its own accord to pass the case to the Florida Supreme Court for determination.

The appeals court stated that the case concerned several significant issues. The first is whether Florida should recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages for the purposes of granting dissolution. The second issue is the constitutionality of Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage. Importantly, the appeals court noted that sending the case to the Supreme Court would resolve jurisdictional and constitutional issues once and for all. Thus, in the future, couples in similar situations won’t be subject to unequal treatment.

Generally, for any person to obtain dissolution in a Florida court, at least one of the parties must have lived in Florida for a minimum of 6 months before filing a dissolution petition. The parties must show that either the marriage is irretrievably broken, or that one of the parties is mentally incapacitated. Upon a finding of either of those requirements, a court will enter a judgment dissolving the marriage.

Divorce can be a complicated event in anyone’s life, especially when there are children involved or issues of property division. The Southwest Florida family lawyers at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano are sensitive to the complexities of family and marital relationships. The process of ending a relationship is difficult enough without all of the legal hassles that come along with it. As always, our family law team works to reach a reasonable compromise without sacrificing your legal rights. We remain up-to-date on all the Florida laws related to divorce, custody, child support, visitation, and alimony.

If you are experiencing a change in your marriage, reach out to our compassionate attorneys to get the assistance you need during this time. Contact us online or call toll-free at (800) 238-7442 for a free confidential consultation.

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