Florida Bar Family Law Section To Wade Into Same-Sex Divorce Case

Jul 28, 2014

Credit Andrew Malone via Flickr

The Florida Bar Family Law Section plans to throw its support behind a same-sex couple trying to get divorced. In a case called Shaw v. Shaw, the family lawyers plan to file a brief arguing gay couples are being denied equal access to the courts.  

In March, a Hillsborough County couple filed a divorce agreement, but their judge said the Florida Constitution does not recognize their Massachusetts marriage and therefore a divorce could not be granted.

Past chair of the Florida Bar Family Law Section Elisha Roy says Florida normally grants divorces to people living in the state for at least six months, which the couple had done.

“Same-sex couples who are validly married in other states can’t come to this jurisdiction and get divorced, even if it’s the only jurisdiction that may have the ability to grant the divorce," she says. "So it’s cutting off a group of people’s access to courts."

Roy points out 19 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Last week, the Florida Bar Board of Governors approved the family law section’s request to get involved in the case. 

Meanwhile, two Florida judges have ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional: one in Monroe County two weeks ago and another in Miami on Friday. In both cases, stays are preventing county clerks from issuing marriage licenses pending appeals. And two federal judges in Florida are weighing whether the state should have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.