Same-sex Divorce Issue Unsettled, Moving Through Texas Courts


Divorce lawyers in Pasadena are familiar with the issues surrounding gay marriage in the United States. Now same-sex divorce is becoming an issue, as well. In the state of Texas, a same-sex couple cannot be legally married. But can a legally-married same-sex couple be granted a legal divorce? That question is not clearly answered at this stage.

Currently in the United States, different states have different laws regarding a same-sex couple's right to be legally married. A couple can be legally married in one state, and then move to another state where that marriage is not recognized.

The attorney general in Texas has been trying to block legally-married same-sex couples from divorcing in the state. In February 2010, an Austin court granted a divorce to a lesbian couple that wed in Massachusetts before returning home to Texas. That was when Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbot tried to intervene in order to block the divorce.

On Friday, the Texas Court of Appeals in Austin ruled against the attorney general, allowing the divorce to stand. However, the state has not resolved the debate over the legality of same-sex divorce, because a different appellate court has ruled against a different same-sex couple seeking a divorce in Texas.

An attorney in Austin, Jody Scheske, who is familiar with both of the cases, tried to clarify some of the confusion over the issue.

"It's complicated and to some extent remains unsettled and that's unfortunate," Scheske said. "If you have a legal marriage you should have the same equal right to divorce as all other married people have."

However, Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for Abbot, noted that "the Texas Constitution and statutes are clear: Only the union of a man and a woman can be treated as a marriage in Texas. The court's decision undermines unambiguous Texas law."

The attorney general has different options for pursuing the blocking of same-sex divorces in Texas, and this is an issue that could end up being decided in the Texas Supreme Court.