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Texas family code does not cover same-sex divorce

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision making same-sex marriage legal throughout the country was celebrated by many in the state of Texas. Finally, gay couples have the right to form a marital bond that is recognized by the state. But the flip side of marriage is divorce and same-sex couples are not immune from having difficulties that can lead to a split.

Since the state previously would not recognize gay marriages, it would not grant a same-sex couple married in another state a divorce. So one would think that since gay couples can now marry in Texas, the process of getting divorced would also be greatly simplified, right?  Well, yes and no.

According to one Austin-based same-sex divorce expert, state laws have not yet been amended to accommodate gay divorces. And while it is possible for same-sex couples to get divorced, it still may be difficult depending on the circumstances.

 Take for example a case where a divorcing same-sex couple has children. The expert says the state’s family code does not mention if both spouses will retain parental status after the divorce. The expert also says that the family code is extremely important and is in need of rewriting to account for the changes brought about by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. And the expert points out that the Legislature does not reconvene until 2017.

While ideally judges presiding over same-sex divorces will apply a gender-neutral process for rendering their decisions, there is no guarantee they will do so. As a result, gay spouses wishing to divorce in Texas could likely benefit from having the support and representation of a divorce lawyer who is prepared to take on the challenges presented by the gaps in current state laws.

Source: Star-Telegram, “Judge grants Tarrant County’s first gay divorce,” Mitch Mitchell, Aug. 20, 2015

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