Can a Gay Couple, Legally Married In New York, Obtain a Divorce in Florida?


Can a gay couple, legally married in New York, obtain a divorce in Florida? The answer is maybe.

On December 17, 2014, Judge Dale Cohen a Florida Circuit Judge issued a divorce for a gay couple that was married in Vermont in 2002.

Because the marriage license was issued in Vermont there were questions about whether Florida could issue a divorce. In addition, subsequent to Judge Cohen’s issuance of a divorce, a Miami appeals court has ruled that a same-sex couple married in Iowa cannot get a divorce in Florida and affirmed the lower court’s ruling wherein the court dismissed the couple’s divorce petition because Florida does not recognize the marriage.

The two cases above illustrate the current struggle in Florida over its prohibition against same sex marriages.

Florida is one of many states that have banned marriages between people of the same sex. In 2014, Florida lower courts have held that Florida’s prohibitions against same sex marriages are unconstitutional based on its holding that marriage is a fundamental right and that Florida’s ban must be reviewed under strict scrutiny. The cases are currently being appealed. If Florida Attorney General Bondi and Governor Rick Scott decide to continue the appeal to uphold the ban, the state may appeal Judge Cohen’s issuance of a judgment of divorce to the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

For now, gay married couples living in Florida will likely have to wait until a final resolution of the pending appeals before being afforded the right to divorce.

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