While Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages, there are a number of Texas residents who were legally married in another state or country that does allow it. Once they do that, under recent rulings, the IRS regards them as married for federal tax purposes even if they move back to Texas. But what if the relationship breaks up? A problem for some such couples is that Texas currently also does not allow them to get a divorce in the state.
In one such case, a male couple became legally married in Massachusetts back in 2006. In that state, same-sex marriage has been legal for nine years now. When the marriage essentially broke down after they came to Texas, they found themselves in a strange legal limbo. They were unable to get a divorce in Texas.
Nor are they able to get a divorce in Massachusetts or in any other state, because of residency requirements that cannot be satisfied without moving elsewhere – at least for some period of time. A Texas appeals court ruled that same-sex divorce is not possible. Later in November, however, there will be a hearing of an appeal before the Texas Supreme Court that will determine whether a same-sex couple can divorce in the state.
Family law attorneys frequently must fashion legal arguments and solutions for new and unusual circumstances. They must tailor remedies that meet the changing needs of their clients. Luckily, for most Texas married couples, the nightmare of being trapped in a marriage they no longer want but can’t legally get out of does not exist, and lawyers are ready and able to assist them in resolving their problem. They can help move on with their lives. Hopefully, the same will apply to same-sex couples in the near future.
Source: Slate.com, “Texas Hold ‘Em” Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West, Sep. 11, 2013