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Texas Supreme Court to determine if same-sex couples may divorce

The Texas Supreme Court is in the process of trying to determine whether same-sex couples who were legally married in other states will be permitted to divorce in Texas. Two cases are involving couples who live in Dallas and Austin, respectively, but were married out-of-state, lie at the heart of the case, which will put Texas' same-sex marriage ban to the test because of the U.S. Supreme Court's determination earlier in the summer that same-sex couples may not be relegated to second-class status under individual state laws.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott stated that Texas law forbids divorce or any action that validates or recognizes a same-sex marriage that occurred in another state. However, the attorneys for the couples pointed out that Abbott lacks the authority to become involved; they assert that divorce is a private issue. The couples involved argue that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage should be overturned if the state can deny gay couples the right to divorce.

A future state ruling may come down to how the federal ruling is interpreted. Attorneys for the couples say that according to the federal ruling, any Texas law that treats same-sex marriages as second-class or unequal is unconstitutional. Abbott interprets the U.S. Supreme court decision in a different manner; he says that the high court recognized that each state had the right to determine how to apply marriage laws.

Individuals considering divorce may have questions, especially if they share a significant amount of assets or if unusual circumstances are present. By explaining various options, an attorney may be able to help people understand how the law can protect them and their children. The attorney may also be able to facilitate an equitable division of assets that bypasses drawn-out litigation in court.

Source: American-Statesman, "Texas Supreme Court takes same-sex divorce cases", Chuck Lindell, August 23, 2013

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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