While hundreds of same-sex couples happily lined up this past Tuesday to get married after a federal judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Florida divorce lawyers readied their practices for more business. Gay and lesbian couples, who were legally married in other states, have been heretofore unable to get divorced in Florida due to the state’s constitutional amendment and court precedent. These couples can no longer be denied access to the courts.
According the 2010 U.S. census, there were close to 50,000 same-sex couples in Florida, though it is unclear how many are married. These couples own homes together, share bank accounts and adopt children. When the relationship sours, same-sex couples, like any other couple, must turn to the courts for the orderly resolution of their legal rights and responsibilities.
According to some experts, who’ve researched the consequences of same-sex marriage in other states, Florida can anticipate approximately 25,000 same-sex weddings over the next three years. With legal recognition, gay and lesbian individuals now have rights to their spouse’s retirement plan, homestead protection, health insurance benefits and inheritance rights, among others. In the event of divorce, same-sex spouses can now resolve all of their legal issues in family law court with one judge as opposed to litigating their various issues piece meal before different judges as it was done before. This is long overdue. Everyone deserves equal protection under the law, without exception.
Posted January 13, 2015