Divorce and the Pregnant Man

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, April 1, 2013.

With all of the talk about marriage, divorce and the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in the Defense of Marriage Act case, there is a timely decision out of Phoenix, Arizona about the Thomas Beatie divorce, a matter I blogged about a while ago. Do you remember Tom?

To recap, Tom was born Tracy Lehuanani Lagondino in Oahu, Hawaii. She began undergoing testosterone therapy, and after psychological testing, her first surgeries were performed in 2002. After that Tracy’s birth certificate and driver’s license changed. Six months later, Tracy became Tom.

Tom married his girlfriend Nancy in 2003, and because Nancy couldn’t have children, Tom had the child. Tom conceived – with donated sperm – and gave birth to children who are now 4, 3 and 2 years old. The couple eventually moved to Arizona.

When news leaked out of the pregnancy, Tom became an instant hint as “The Pregnant Man,” appearing on Oprah, Barbara Walters, Letterman etc. He also wrote a book, and is a motivational speaker for transgender rights.

Now Tom wants to end his marriage to Nancy, and filed in Phoenix, Arizona. Arizona, like Florida, bans same-sex marriages, which prevents Tom’s nine-year union with Nancy from being recognized as a valid marriage. So, Tom’s divorce plans stalled last summer when a judge said he was unable to find legal authority defining a man as someone who can give birth. However, the case has been left in legal limbo for a while.

Last week Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach ruled that Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages prevents Thomas Beatie’s nine-year union from being recognized as valid. Gerlach said he had no jurisdiction to approve a divorce because there’s insufficient evidence that Beatie was a man when he married Nancy Beatie in Hawaii. As USA Today reports:

“The decision here is not based on the conclusion that this case involves a same-sex marriage merely because one of the parties is a transsexual male, but instead, the decision is compelled by the fact that the parties failed to prove that (Thomas Beatie) was a transsexual male when they were issued their marriage license,” he wrote in Friday’s ruling.

The judge’s ruling also said it didn’t address whether Arizona law allows a person who was born female to marry another female after undergoing a sex change operation. Gerlach’s ruling also noted that Thomas Beatie halted the testosterone treatments and that he didn’t provide documentation for any additional non-surgical efforts.