As same-sex marriage laws shift and evolve state-by-state, so will the nation's laws on divorce. One of the complications of same-sex marriage is how to dissolve a union in a state where same-sex marriage isn't recognized. These legal questions have cropped up throughout the nation, turning up a very important decision in the state of Alabama. Earlier this month, an Alabama judge ruled that two women who were married in Iowa cannot obtain a divorce in Alabama.
According to reports, a judge threw out an uncontested divorce between two women in Huntsville. The complaint was filed earlier this month and the two separated women were seeking a divorce after their 2012 wedding. Since the couple was no longer living together or getting along, there was no contest. Despite the mutually agreeable decision to dissolve the marriage, the judge dismissed the case because Alabama laws don't apply to same sex unions. Our Birmingham family law attorneys are dedicated to staying abreast of legal issues that impact the lives of Alabama residents.
In the past few years, state marriage laws have changed drastically for same-sex couples. The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state ban on gay marriages in 2009 allowing same sex couples to legally marry. Unfortunately, the majority of states, including Iowa, also have a residency requirement for performing a divorce. In effect, this leaves married couples in a legal “no-man's land” where they are forced to stay married, unless they both move back to where they were married and wait for a year. Of course, an attorney representative for one party says that neither women want to move to get a divorce.
This recent case is just an example of what is to come for same-sex couples who move to states where their legal marriage isn't recognized. There is also a legal morass of other issues involving support and custody that cannot be resolved if states refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. Despite ideological or religious differences among residents, states may be forced to handle these cases simply to resolve legal inequities and disputes. In this case, both parties were from Alabama and have significant ties, including their homes and families.
Currently, 17 states recognize same-sex marriage. The laws vary and can produce very different results. In Mississippi, a petitioner is asking the court to recognize a California marriage and divorce. Similarly, a federal judge in Kentucky has struck down the state ban on recognizing same sex marriages. Under the current state law in Alabama, it appears that the judge had no choice but to throw out the case. At least one of the lawyers in the case is planning to appeal the decision, either by asking the judge to reconsider or by taking the case to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Admittedly, the lawyers and the parties understand that they are initiating the process to begin to change the law.
Individuals who are faced with legal challenges should consult with an experienced advocate. The results of your case could have a significant impact on your legal rights, financial security and long-term interests.
If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.