Ft. Lauderdale, FL- On Monday, a Broward County Judge rule Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the third such ruling in the state, which will pave the way for the same-sex divorce in the state.
Same-sex marriage is an emotionally charged subject in the U.S., a fact Judge Dale Cohen noted in his decision, but added, “politics and emotionality cannot rule,” and deemed that the state’s same-sex marriage ban violates a person’s right to due process, under the Fourth Amendment, and denies them equal protection.
In the ruling, per the Orlando Sentinel, Judge Cohen wrote, “The State of Florida cannot ignore the status and dignity afforded to opposite-sex couples, who were married out-of-state, and not extend those same rights, dignities and benefits to same-sex couples similarly situated.”
The case before the circuit court centered on a lesbian couple Heather Brassner and Megan Lade, who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2002. Brassner alleges her partner cheated on her a few years ago, and Lade eventually left. Brassner had and still has no way to contact her estranged spouse, but now she has a new partner and asked a judge to dissolve her civil union.
Brassner petitioned the state of Vermont, but was told she couldn’t get a divorce unless she provided a signed affidavit from Lade, which she can’t do because she is unable to locate her former partner. She then petitioned the courts by Judge Cohen said he has to rule on the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban before he could dissolve her civil union, the Miami Herald reported.
For opposite-sex couples, one spouse can be granted a divorce through a default judgment, if they cannot contact their former spouse or their ex refuses to sign divorce papers. But that right is not extended to same-sex couples where their unions are not recognized.
Monday’s ruling establishes that same-sex couples deserve the same rights as opposite-sex marriages, regardless of which state they were married in. This is an important decision for divorce attorneys and, depending on how an appellate court decides, will allow Florida’s same-sex couples to seek a divorce even if they were married in a different state.
All rulings are stayed at the moment as they move through appeals process. Three previous rulings also ruled the state’s ban in unconstitutional but all are stayed at the moment. This means Brassner’s divorce hasn’t been granted yet, but she is one step closer to being able to move on with her life and her new partner.
Marriages whether they involve sometimes these relationships don’t last, it’s a simple fact of life. Even though same-sex marriage is a divisive issue, these couples face the same challenges as any other couple when their relationship breaks down. The encounter the same issues over property and asset division and child custody. Same-sex couples, like often need help from the courts and divorce attorneys to dissolve their marriages.