Is Divorce Treated Differently for Same Sex Couples in Texas?
Same sex marriage was legalized in our state in June of 2015. At the time, a ground-breaking Supreme Court Decision ( Obergefell v. Hodges ) found that the right to marry is protected by the U.S. Constitution. All state laws that prohibited same sex marriage were struck down.
Like all other couples, some same sex couples are now dealing with the issue of divorce. This raises complicated questions, as same sex divorce is still very new in Texas. Here, our Pearland, TX same sex divorce attorneys explain some of the basic things that you need to know about how this process works.
For same sex couples, the divorce process is largely similar to the divorce process for opposite sex couples. You may seek a divorce on no-fault grounds or fault based grounds. You may also reach a divorce settlement (as most couples do), or your case may be resolved in the courtroom. In all cases, same sex partners who are getting divorced should be represented by an experienced attorney who can protect their family law rights and financial interests.
One of the issues that can make a same sex marriage more complicated than an opposite sex marriage is the issue of ‘common law marriage.’ In Texas, you do not necessarily have to have a marriage license in order to be married for the purposes of state law. In fact, a couple in Texas is married if they:
Agree to be married;
Live together as spouses; and
Hold each other out as spouses.
In most cases, couples who do these three things also choose to officially tie the knot with a marriage license. Thus, common law marriage is rarely an issue. However, until 2015, same sex couples did not have the ability to get married in Texas. There were many same sex couples who lived like ‘spouses’ for decades, but were prevented from getting a marriage license due to discriminatory state regulations.
In a divorce , this has the potential to make a difference. While a same sex couple in Texas may not have gotten their marriage license until after the Summer of 2015, a family law court today may actually find that they retroactively had a valid common law marriage that started many years earlier. This is still a new, unresolved issue. If you and your same sex partner are splitting up after long relationship, you should work with a divorce attorney who can help you address this issue and all of its potential implications.
At John Powell III, P.C. , our Texas same sex divorce lawyers are committed to providing top quality family law services to our clients. To get immediate assistance with your same sex divorce, please contact our legal team today for a fully private consultation. With an office in Pearland, TX, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Brazoria County and Galveston County.