Same-sex couples married in another state can divorce in Florida

Same-sex couples who get married in another state can get divorced in Florida, according to an opinion filed last month.

Photo by Serge Bertasius Photography on freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Serge Bertasius Photography on freedigitalphotos.net

The Second District Court of Appeals in Florida filed an opinion in April 2015 in Thomas v. Thomas, 40 FLW D971a (Fla. 2d DCA), ruling that based on the full faith and credit clause Florida has jurisdiction to dissolve same-sex marriages that were entered into in another state.

The facts of this case began when Danielle Brandon-Thomas and Krista Brandon-Thomas, a same-sex couple, became legally married in Massachusetts in 2012. After moving to Florida, Danielle filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the Florida court. At the trial level Krista asserted the argument that Danielle’s petition should be dismissed because Florida did not recognize same-sex marriages. Krista relied on Florida’s Defense of Marriage Act.

The trial court agreed with Krista and dismissed the Petition, which ultimately left Danielle with limited options. If the Florida court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to grant same-sex divorces and states have a residency requirement before people can file Petitions requesting relief, they are seemingly out of luck unless they relocate.

Danielle since appealed and the Second District Court of Appeals has now ruled in her favor. The appellate court leaned on the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, which states “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial proceedings of every other State,” Art. VI Section 1, U.S. Constitution.

This effectively means that each state can’t pick and choose which laws of another state it is going to enforce. However, Florida isn’t required to give full faith and credit to another state’s laws that are found to be in conflict with the state’s legitimate public policy. In the issue of same-sex divorces, Florida does not have any legitimate government interest that would be served by prohibiting same-sex couples from seeking to dissolve their marriages.

This is certainly not the end of this hotly debated issue. This case is expected to be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

For more information on divorce and family law issues, email Keith@AttorneyGrossman.com, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?

     Posted on May 26, 2015 at 10:31 am | No comment

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