Last week, Bondi filed papers in the Broward County Circuit Court, stating Heather Brassner should not be granted a divorce from her former partner Megan Lade even though three judges in state have ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Brassner and Lade married in Vermont in 2001, but the relationship soured and the Lade left town. Brassner, fearing her estranged spouse could harm her financially, filed for divorce in Florida and has since been locked in a long-running legal battle.
Brassner initially attempted to get a divorce through Vermont, but the state requires a signed affidavit from Lade. Brassner has made many attempts to find Lade, even hiring a private investigator, with no success.
For heterosexual married couples, a spouse can be granted a default judgment when the other spouse cannot be located. When Vermont denied her divorce Brassner filed in Florida, seeking the same rights as any married couple in the state.
In August, Broward County Judge Dale Cohen ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the third judge in the state to issue such a ruling. That ruling meant Brassner and Lade’s relationship was no longer considered a civil union in the state, and the divorce could proceed.
Any party opposed to his decision had until last Friday to issue a challenge; AG Bondi filed her challenged Wednesday.
In her filing, Bondi said Cohen should not grant Brassner’s divorce petition, writing that a civil is not the same as a marriage, therefore the state’s ban on same-sex marriage cannot be ruled unconstitutional, according to the Broward Palm Beach New Times.
Bondi has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and has filed motions to state appeals court to put a freeze on all appeals filed by same-sex couples, the New Times reported. Bondi wants a definitive decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether same-sex marriages are constitutional, arguing state challenges are too costly for taxpayers.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear five challenges to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. This was seen as a victory to civil rights activists, and same-sex couples in states across the country rushed to marry.
The only problem is that without a formal decision from the Supreme Court or changes to state law, same-sex couples could be facing a drawn-out legal battle like Brassner’s if they decide to split.
Divorce for same-sex married couples is pretty straightforward is pretty straightforward if their marriage is recognized in their state. However, trying to obtain a divorce in a state that has no laws recognizing same-sex marriage means a divorce will be difficult for a divorce attorney to obtain. This means a couple must move to a state where their marriage is recognized and meet their residency requirements, which can be anywhere from 6 months to a year. Otherwise a same-sex couple could find themselves with no simple way to divorce.