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Texas couple's divorce in limbo amid same-sex marriage battle

Texas has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. However, not everyone in our state is of the same mind regarding the issue. It continues to be the subject of strong legal and political debate -- even when it comes to couples who were married in parts of the country where it is legal.

Recently, a U.S. district judge ruled that both the ban and the state's lack of recognition of legal same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. However, the state's attorney general, Greg Abbott, is appealing that decision. That is leaving at one San Antonio couple in limbo.

The two women, who were married in 2010 in Washington, D.C., filed for divorce last month after about six months of separation. They are hoping that their case can move forward amid the legal and political squabbling because there is a teenage child involved. The non-biological mother, who never formally adopted the girl, wants shared custody. She reportedly has not been able to see her since around the time of the separation. However, her spouse contends that she had no custodial rights to the child.

Although this is reportedly the first same-sex divorce case brought in Bexar County, it is not the first for Texas. An Austin couple was allowed to divorce. Meanwhile, a Dallas couple is still trying to get their divorce granted. They have argued that the state does not need to allow same-sex marriage to allow a divorce by spouses legally married in another state.

Now the San Antonio family's fate, and that of other same-sex couples and their children, may be in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court. One Texas attorney fighting for the legal rights of same-sex couples, says that under state law, people who are legally married "are deprived of the benefits of an orderly dissolution of a marriageā€¦.[and] their children are denied the benefit of the many laws to protect their interests in the event of a divorce."

Divorce is never easy under the best of circumstances, particularly when there is a custody dispute. However, for same-sex couples in a state that doesn't recognize their marriage, the process can be extremely challenging. Family law attorneys can help their clients navigate the judicial system and work to protect their clients' rights, as well as the interests of the children caught in the middle.

Source: Dallas Voice, "Lesbian couple files for divorce in Bexar County" No author given, Mar. 17, 2014

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