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Same-sex couple denied divorce

With legal attitudes towards same-sex couples changing rapidly, Washington couples may be surprised to learn that a judge in Mississippi refused to grant a divorce for a couple who had gotten married in California. According to reports, the divorce request was denied because Mississippi state law does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The two women were married in California in 2008 and bought property together in Mississippi. However, the women later decided to end their relationship. While they could get a divorce in California, Mississippi would not recognize the divorce under current laws, and this could create problems regarding property ownership.

In 1997, Mississippi law was amended to state that any same-sex marriage was prohibited and that same-sex marriages valid in other jurisdictions were considered void. Additionally, a ban on same-sex marriage was approved by a majority of voters in 2004. According to the attorney for the woman who filed for divorce, the judge was bound by the state's public law and had no choice but to deny the request.

The woman's attorney contended that when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. government was ordered to recognize same-sex marriages. The attorney argued that this created a situation where the women's marriage was recognized at the federal level but not the state level.

The state of Washington now recognizes same-sex marriage. A same-sex couple who marries may eventually decide to seek a divorce just like any couple. A family law attorney can help clients with a wide variety of issues associated with divorce, including the division of property and finances, child custody and child support.

Source: ABC News, "Miss. Judge Refuses to Grant Gay Couple's Divorce", December 03, 2013

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