Are Same-Sex Divorces in Florida Legal Now?

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Same sex/GLBTA on Friday, September 5, 2014.

In Florida, same-sex marriages are not recognized. Last month a Broward judge granted a same-sex divorce, and the time to appeal passed without an appeal. This allows the judge to finalize the same-sex divorce. What’s going on?

As the Miami Herald reports:

Brassner and Lade entered into a civil union in Vermont. In 2010, according to Brassner, Lade cheated on her and disappeared. Brassner, who still doesn’t know where Lade is, has now partnered with someone else and would like to marry someday.

I’ve written on the problem we have in Florida with same-sex divorces before. Florida law forbids recognizing the Vermont civil union and therefore won’t permit a divorce. And Vermont won’t dissolve the union without a signed affidavit from the missing Lade.

On Aug. 4, Judge Cohen declared Florida’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional and that Brassner and Lade be divorced, but stayed his ruling until after the 30-day appeal period was over.

“This Court finds that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the guarantees of due process and equal protection under the laws,” Cohen ruled. “Florida’s prohibition on same-sex marriage denies some citizens, based on their sexual orientation, the fundamental right to marry, and does so without a legitimate state purpose. This Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and GRANTS the Petitioner’s Motion For Declaratory Relief, declaring Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.”

Now we know the state isn’t appealing. A hearing in the case, before Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen, is scheduled for the divorce to become final.

Although Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office offered a comment why the attorney general did not appeal the Brassner and Simpson decisions: “We were not parties to those cases,” Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Meale said

The Miami Herald article is available here.