Status of Same Sex Marriage, Divorce and Parenting in Florida

Written by Charlie T. Boyle | | Download
Attorney Charles T. Boyle | Farr Law | Serving Southwest Florida (image)

Charles T. Boyle, Attorney
Charlie has been Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Marital and Family Law since 1995 and primarily focuses his practice in this area. He also practices in civil litigation and real estate. 

The US Supreme Court will rule on the issue of same sex marriage by the end of June, 2015. Therefore, technically, the issue is still undecided. However, preliminary rulings by the Supreme Court denying a stay on same sex marriages in both Alabama and Florida make it all too clear that the Supreme Court will ultimately rule that same sex marriages must be recognized in all states.

Therefore, this issue seems likely settled both in Florida and nationwide. Same sex marriages are allowed as of January 6th, 2015.

If there is going to be same sex marriage there will be divorces, eventually, of some of these marriages. In fact, there may be a pent up demand for divorces between same sex couples in Florida given the influx to Florida from other states where same sex marriage has been previously legal.

At this point would one simply conclude that same sex divorces in Florida will be no different than “normal” heterosexual divorces? Probably not.

At least two potential pitfall areas may await parties going through a same sex divorce.

The first area involves post divorce parenting issues. Have both parties adopted any minor child who is not a biological child? If one of the parties has not, that party is likely not to have any post divorce parenting rights notwithstanding having been a psychological parent for many years? Why? Because the parent who has not adopted and is not a biological parent is also not a legal parent.

The second area involves agreements made in contemplation of living together but not in contemplation of marriage. How will these agreements be treated?

Other complications not contemplated above may also arise simply because we will deal with a myriad of factual circumstances not previously addressed by the courts.

The time to deal with these potential pitfalls is now, well prior to any divorce. Even if your same sex marriage is on steady ground now, you may be well served to consult an experienced family law attorney to address these types of “What if?” scenarios.

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It is not offered as legal advice or legal opinion.
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