First same-sex divorce in Harris County

Now that same-sex couples can legally get married nationwide, that means they can also legally split-up in any state. Harris County had its first same-sex divorce Thursday morning. The gay couple actually filed for divorce back in February when it was not legal in Harris County, all in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s big decision. That got the ball rolling, so to speak. Once  same-sex rights were passed last week, the couple didn’t waste any time finalizing their divorce today. "Yes, finally I can go, my first call was to my attorney." That was Ryan Cotter’s first reaction to the Supreme Court’s historic ruling. "She said, How are you? Amazing, because now I can get divorced," said Cotter.

Cotter and his husband got married in New York, where it was legal in 2012, but they’ve been ready to call it quits in Houston for months. But to legally divorce, they would’ve had to establish residency in a state where same-sex rights were recognized and that can take up to a year.  "It was pretty overwhelming. There would have been a lot of expense involved and a lot of unknowns," said Cotter.

None of that matters now. The 32-year-old real estate agent walked out of a Houston courthouse Thursday as part of the first same-sex divorce in Harris County. "I think I feel more equal. It was extremely surreal," he said. 

Family law attorney Lori Kern with Myres & Associates was by his side. "There was a moment when the judge acknowledged, hey, we're going to have to get used to doing things a new way aren't we. He was absolutely right, there are far reaching implications throughout family law," said Kern

Kern says the biggest focus moving forward with same-sex marital rights will be on child custody issues. "I think it's going to open the door for a lot of different legislative changes," she said.

As for Cotter, he doesn’t have any kids yet. But you never know, because fresh off of his divorce, he’s already engaged. And now he’s planning to get married in Texas. "One door closes another door opens," he said.

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