Florida became the latest state to have same-sex marriage legalized after an early January court ruling. As a result, many of the laws and regulations surrounding marriage and divorcees in the state may need to be revised.
The potential changes impact several different aspects of divorce, including child custody, spousal support and Social Security and pension benefits. Most of these laws are applicable to all marriages, but with same-sex marriage having been illegal in Florida until now, same-sex divorce was not really an issue. Thus, as soon as marriage between same-sex couples became legal, an immediate need arose to address the state’s now-outdated divorce statutes.
There are some issues, however, that are unique to same-sex marriages. In child custody arrangements, for example, one consideration courts normally take into account is whether the child would be better off in the guidance of the father or mother. One lawyer has used the example of a couple having unruly sons, and a judge being more likely to consider placing them in the custody of the father. With same-sex marriage, courts may need to adjust their practices to consider the needs of more diverse family makeups.
For many same-sex couples in Florida, the ability to get divorced is something they have been fighting for over the course of years. The 2010 census listed approximately 50,000 same-sex couples in Florida who were either married in other states or not married yet. This means that in addition to the demand for same-sex marriage in the state, there has also been a long demand for couples married in other states to be able to file for divorce in Florida. Previously, courts could not allow same-sex couples to divorce because they did not legally recognize their marriage as being valid in the first place.
For more information on the various issues of same-sex marriage and divorce law in Florida, consult a knowledgeable Jacksonville divorce attorney.
Divorce attorney Andrea Jevic contributed to this blog post.