When a major portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, it brought numerous benefits to same-sex couples who were married in one of the dozen states where such unions are legal. In Florida, it also brings some hope for married same-sex couples who want a divorce but have so far been unable to obtain one in the state.
At present, same-sex married couples who reside in Florida cannot obtain a divorce, because the state does not recognize the existence of their marriage. On the other hand, they cannot remarry, as that would constitute bigamy in the states where the marriage is recognized. Some states where same-sex marriage is recognized have strict residency requirements for divorce, leaving some Florida residents who want a divorce in legal limbo.
While the section of DOMA that permits states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states was not struck down by the high court, the court’s decision is broad enough that it may provide a basis for future challenges to state laws. Same-sex marriage is prohibited in Florida and same-sex marriages from other states are not recognized.
Any legal challenge to state law will take some time, but the outlook has improved for same-sex couples wanting a divorce in Florida.
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