Texas courts grapple with gay divorce

- Let’s face it, gay or straight love comes with no guarantees, and many couples who say I do later say what have I done.

Before June 24th, gay marriage wasn’t recognized in Texas so there was no such thing as a gay divorce.

“You could not even have a marriage voided in Texas because when you walked into the state of Texas it was already considered void,” said attorney James Hedlesten.

Just like straight couples gays who present themselves as a couple, had a ceremony but no marriage license can be considered under the law as common law married.

“The question becomes is the common law marriage retroactively applied that it is recognized in Texas,” Hedlesten said. “It’s uncharted waters that the Harris County courts will have to figure out.”

Common law gay couples or those who married in other states but separated in Texas now need to get a divorce or face the possibility of having their ex coming back years later for financial gain.

Hedleston recalls a straight client who married on a whim and hadn’t seen or spoke to the woman for 40 years.

“He had amassed almost three quarters of a million dollars in retirement it was all up for grabs in divorce court 40 years later,” said Hedleston.

Texas courts will be busy for many years since there’s  very little precedent for custody cases.
If the child was conceived through a surrogate the non-biological parent may have no legal standing.

“These cases will be litigated one side’s not going to be happy that person is going to file an appeal,” Hedlesten said. “Appeals are very expensive and that becomes an issue as well.”  
 

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