Florida Divorce After Supreme Court Ruling on DOMA

It has never been easier for same-sex couples to marry than it is today, but what about divorce? Oddly, it may not be as easy to untie the knot as it is to tie it.

A recent Supreme Court decision, United States v. Windsor, held that the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s (DOMA) definition of marriage as “a union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” was unconstitutional. This decision effectively gives same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples under federal law, but not under state law.

Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in any jurisdiction, even those in which same-sex marriages are authorized by law. Since Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states, same-sex married couples cannot get a divorce in Florida. That’s because the requirements for a divorce in Florida include that a marriage recognized by the state existed in the first place.

Further complicating the matter, most states have a residency requirement for individuals to get divorced, but not to get married. This means that a same-sex couple could make a quick trip to a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage to be married, but not make the same quick trip to get a divorce.

Suppose for example that a same-sex couple gets married in a jurisdiction that recognizes the union, such as New York, and then moves to Florida. They live in Florida for a while and decide to split up. They will not be able to get a divorce in Florida because Florida doesn’t recognize the union. They also will not be able to get a divorce in New York because New York requires one spouse to be a continuous resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing for divorce.

To learn more about Florida divorce and family laws and how they apply to you, contact an experienced Pinellas County family law firm.

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