Debate regarding same-sex divorce recently heard by Texas Supreme Court

The Texas Supreme Court is currently considering how the state should address the issue of same-sex divorce in circumstances in which the couple was originally married outside of Texas.

This particular matter has been especially problematic given the fact that Texas law continues to ban same-sex marriage - although the state cannot stop people from getting married in other states and then moving to Texas.

Specifically, the case before the court involves two same-sex couples who were married in a jurisdiction in which same-sex marriage is legal - Massachusetts - and then subsequently sought divorces after moving to Texas.

Interestingly, the Texas Attorney General's Office, which is opposing same-sex divorce, recently made the argument before the Texas Supreme Court that it is not possible to permit a same-sex divorce without first recognizing the same-sex marriage. Ironically, this position, if validated by the court, would effectively mean that same-sex couples in Texas would have to remain married despite the fact that Texas law says they cannot get married in the first place. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett made note of this paradox when he said, "It would seem to many that [same-sex] divorce would further the state's public policy and not undermine the state's public policy."

Although it will likely be some time before the court renders a decision in this matter, there is no denying that it will have far-reaching legal implications for Texas citizens who enter into legal same-sex marriages in other states.

Same-sex child custody issues in Texas

This recent dispute merely illustrates one of the many legal hurdles that same-sex couples often face in Texas. For instance, same-sex child custody disputes can also become quite complex in Texas given the state's ban on same-sex marriage - particularly in situations in which the child is related to only one parent, whether by adoption or birth.

In circumstances such as this, many same-sex couples seek to establish a Joint Managing Conservatorship agreement in order to protect both parents' parental rights. Since most Texas courts do not allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt children, a Joint Managing Conservatorship arrangement allows both same-sex parents to have confidence that their rights will continue even if their relationship ends.

It is these little nuances of Texas law that can make it extremely difficult - and frustrating - for same-sex couples to navigate family law issues in the Lone Star State. Consequently, if you are currently involved in a child custody dispute, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. A skilled attorney can review the facts of your case and help determine the best course of action given your circumstances.