This past summer, a Broward County judge ruled to strike down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban by issuing a decision to allow two women (legally married outside of Florida) to divorce within our state. This decision meant that Florida courts would have to recognize the validity of the same-sex marriage in order to dissolve the marriage, which goes against the state constitutional ban. Unfortunately, the decision was vacated and the divorce case was dismissed in September based on a procedural technicality–not on the merits of the case.
On December 8, 2014, however, Judge Dale Cohen reissued a decision in the refiling of the divorce case that mirrors his August decision to grant the same-sex divorce between wives Heather Brassner and Megan Lade. In his decision, Judge Cohen declared both the constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages in Florida unconstitutional and unenforceable. Brassner is expected to file a request for a Final Judgment of Dissolution as soon as possible and her attorney hopes to have Judge Cohen grant the final divorce prior to the beginning of 2015.
Same-sex Marriage in 2015
Aside from the Brassner-Lade same-sex divorce case, other developments are taking place that may help same-sex couples receive equal marriage rights in Florida in early 2015. Also last August, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee entered a ruling that struck down Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, stating the constitutional amendment was “an obvious pretext for discrimination.” However, the judge also stayed his decision at that time in order to provide the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi time to appeal the ruling on behalf of the state of Florida.
As the end of the stay order on January 5, 2015 approaches, the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals recently released its decision not to extend the stay order past that date. This means that if the Court of Appeals does not reverse the decision before January 5th and the stay is lifted, same-sex couples should be able to legally obtain a marriage license in Florida on January 6th. If the Court of Appeals upholds the lower court decision, the same-sex marriage ban will expectedly be effectively struck down in Florida since the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review Appeals Court decisions regarding this subject earlier this year. Many court clerks throughout the state of Florida have stated their offices are preparing to issue same-sex marriage licenses if the stay is lifted on January 6th.
Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for Assistance
The legalization of same-sex marriage (and same-sex divorce) in Florida will likely affect a large number of people who may have questions regarding the legal implications of marriage, divorce, custody, and more. If you have any type of question related to family law or if you are facing a family law case, experienced Boca Raton attorney Alan R. Burton can assist you. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at (954) 229-1660 for assistance.