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Texas High Court to Issue Opinion on Same-Sex Divorce

The Texas Supreme Court has reportedly decided it will issue an opinion as to whether same-sex couples who are legally married in other states may obtain a divorce in Texas. The issue has been gaining momentum for some time as more states have begun issuing marriage licenses.

Texas, of course, does not recognize same-sex marriage, but the question of whether it is permitted to refuse divorce to legally married same-sex couples is in question due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision, as our readers remember, overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act because it rendered unequal treatment to same-sex couples.

While the June U.S. Supreme Court decision, by the state’s reading, recognized the right of states to determine how to define marriage, the two Texas couples challenging a denial of a Texas divorce say that if the state can deny divorce, its ban on gay marriage should be lifted. The case is to be argued in early November, and a decision is not expected to come for months afterward.

This story brings up the different but somewhat related issue of where a couple chooses to file for divorce. Couples do have this choice but must meet the requirements of the state and county in which they seek to divorce. In Texas, one of the spouses must have been a resident of Texas for at least six continuous months, and one spouse must have been a resident of the county in which the divorce if filed for a minimum of 90 days. Such requirements can limit where and when a couple is able to begin divorce proceedings.

Choosing where to divorce can be a strategic issue in divorce, particularly when it comes to property issues. It can be helpful to speak with an attorney early on to determine the best course of procedure in filing for divorce.

Source: Austin American Statesman, “Texas Supreme Court takes same-sex divorce cases,” Chuck Lindell, August 23, 2013.