Broward County judge Dale Cohen has granted the first same sex divorce in Florida. The divorce was granted to Heather Brassner and Megan Lade who were married in Vermont in 2002. However, Brassner wanted a divorce as the couple had been living separately for a few years now.
Florida has a ban on same sex marriages, but Cohen ruled this ban unconstitutional, saying it violated the Fourth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal treatment. However, this is not the final legal hurdle on the issue as the State Attorney General Pam Bondi is expected to file an appeal against the decision.
In this particular case, a private investigator was unable to contact Lade and so the case for divorce was filed by Brassner. The divorce decree does not come with any financial settlements or disputes.
As the judge’s ruling against the ban on same sex marriages came as part of a divorce decree the ruling does not stay or repeal the ban on same sex marriages.
Divorce in the Case of Same Sex Marriages
While as a general rule, divorce petitions have to be filed in the state where one of the parties to the marriage resides; this can be a bit difficult in the case of same sex couples wanting a divorce. If the parties reside in a state that permits same sex marriage they will be able to obtain a divorce easily under the laws of the state. However, if the couple lives in a state that has banned same sex marriage, then obtaining a divorce can be difficult. However, if you retain the services of an experienced divorce attorney you should be able to obtain a divorce in the case of same sex marriage as well if you go back to that original state.
States that do not allow same sex marriage should not recognize that divorce either. If two gay people want to marry they should remain in a state that allows this.
Property Disputes in Same Sex Divorce Cases
When a same sex couple splits and applies for a divorce, the property disputes and child custody issues will be settled in the same way in which it will be settled in any other divorce. This means that partners in a same sex marriage have the same rights and protections under the law as a heterosexual couple that wants a divorce as long as that state authorizes same sex marriages.
If you are looking to divorce a same sex partner and want to protect your financial rights you need to retain the services of a divorce lawyer who can file for the divorce and ensure that your rights on property and child custody are protected.
With a few judges ruling that a ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional and affirming that same sex partners have the same right to due process and equal treatment as other couples, those filing for a same sex divorce can ask for a share of the common property as well. Since Florida is an equitable distribution state all marital property will be distributed equally between the partners taking into account various factors such as the contribution of each partner to the acquisition of the property and any disruption in personal careers or education because of the marriage.
If the state does not allow gay people to marry, the divorce cannot be granted. It is important that same sex partners realize this before leaving one state for another.