Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry – and none of these locations require the couple to be residents prior to marriage. This means that same-sex couples from all over the country, including Texas, travel to these states for just a few days for the sole purpose of getting married, and then travel back to their home states.
However – similar to roughly half of all heterosexual marriages – the marriages of many same-sex couples fall apart. Unfortunately, things can get tricky when the home state of the same-sex couples doesn’t recognize their marriage in the first place. Complications may arise, including complications in the areas of same-sex child custody and child support disputes.
Same-Sex Divorce and Child Custody
When neither spouse is a resident of a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain divorces when the resident state of the couple doesn’t allow same-sex marriages. However, many experts believe it is unlikely that many states will change their residency requirements for divorces as that would promote divorce forum shopping – spouses choosing the state of their divorce because of more favorable laws such as child and spousal support.
Unfortunately, the inability to obtain official divorces in same-sex marriages have led to a variety of issues in areas ranging from possible bigamy charges to child custody.
Same-sex divorces create many issues regarding child custody. For instance, in many same sex couples both parents raise the child from birth, but the child may be only biologically related to one of the parents. Many states are still trying to deal with issues such as this because it raises legal questions regarding non-related parents that courts have not had to deal with up until now.
In Texas, many of the laws that apply to heterosexual couples are simply not applicable to same-sex couples – which means the law is still developing. Same-sex couples need to be aware of their rights and obligations when they are considering a split, after all if a child is involved, that may be the most important concern during the divorce.
Source: CNN, “Denied divorce, some same-sex couples ‘wed-locked,'” Elizabeth Landau, June 7, 2012