Florida Same Sex Marriage Laws
In 2008, Florida imposed a ban on same-sex marriage. In August 2014, a district court judge ruled that the ban was unconstitutional. A stay was imposed on the court’s ruling pending the state’s appeals decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. On January 6, 2015, the stay was removed, and Florida began allowing same-sex marriage.
In 2009, Jim Brenner wed Chuck Jones in Canada. Upon their return to Florida, the state refused to recognize the same-sex marriage. Brenner filed a lawsuit to force the state to recognize his 2009 marriage to Jones. Federal District Court Judge Robert Hinkle ruled Florida’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. Effective January 2015, Brenner’s marriage gained all rights and privileges enjoyed by Florida’s heterosexual marriages.
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. The court held that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Pursuant to the ruling, all states were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriage. Before the Supreme Court ruling, most states had constitutional or statutory provisions prohibiting same-sex marriage. Some state statutes still prohibit same-sex marriage. Such laws are being challenged nationwide.
Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce
Same-sex couples have the legal right to marry and divorce now in Florida. In 2015, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal ruled that same-sex couples who wed in other states (including Florida) should be allowed to legally divorce within the state. The decision set a new precedent allowing same-sex divorce proceedings to occur throughout the state. Florida courts can now issue decisions regarding child custody, visitation, and support.
Courts are adopting rules associated with heterosexual marriages to same-sex marriages. To commence a divorce, the same-sex spouse must file a petition in the county he/she resides. A spouse must have lived in Florida within the past six months before filing. Grounds for filing for divorce include a marriage being irretrievably broken or the mental incapacity of a spouse.
Uncontested divorces are usually settled quickly. Contested divorces may be challenging for the court to address depending on the nature of the issues. For example, same-sex parents may face issues when seeking child custody in Florida. If one spouse is the biological parent of the child, and the other spouse did not adopt the child, he/she may face barriers when trying to obtain child custody. If each spouse is the legal parent, time sharing between parents will be easier to resolve.
Florida same-sex couples have faced several hurdles wedding and divorcing. If a county clerk is refusing to provide you with a marriage license, contact our law office. We can help you exercise your legal right to wed. If you are currently considering divorce, contact us for a consultation. We can discuss your legal rights in divorcing your same-sex spouse. If children are involved, extra precautions must be taken to ensure both parents receive custody of their child.