In a case that Texas family advocates are watching, a judge decided that a lesbian couple, who wed in Iowa in 2012, can’t obtain a divorce in Alabama because the state doesn’t recognize same-sex unions. The couple complained that they have separated, don’t get along with each other and don’t want to stay married. The judge simply stated that she was dismissing the case because Alabama divorce law doesn’t apply to same-sex couples who have married.
Iowa validated same-sex marriages in 2009. However, if a couple wants a divorce there, they must be state residents for a year prior to filing the paperwork. The attorney for one of the women believes the judge made a valid decision according to state law but plans to appeal the case. He said they can move forward in an attempt to change state laws. He explained that he will ask the judge to reconsider the case or will seek relief from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. He reported that the couple doesn’t want to relocate in order to obtain a divorce because they are settled in Alabama.
Similar problems in other states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage have surfaced in recent months with some of the same results in court. For example, couples in Missouri and Mississippi are asking the courts to validate their marriage so that they can obtain a divorce. A federal court overturned a Kentucky ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.
New definitions of families are leading to complications as laws differ between states. A family attorney might be able to help someone in a same-sex marriage who is seeking a divorce understand what the state law of Texas means for them.
Source: KTTC, “Judge: Married women can’t divorce in Alabama”, March 12, 2014