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Decision in Texas same-sex divorce cases to be made within months

Last year was an important one for same-sex couples in Texas and the rest of the United States. While several states throughout the nation made same-sex marriage legal, Texas considered whether to allow same-sex couples to divorce in its courts.

Although same-sex marriage isn't legal in Texas, many Texans have traveled to one of the states that do recognize these unions in order to wed there. Some of these couples decided to end their marriage after returning to Texas; however, they ran into trouble with the state's constitutional ban on marriage.

Two of these divorce cases were combined and heard before the Texas Supreme Court in November. Both cases involve same-sex couples who had wed in Massachusetts and are seeking to divorce in Texas.

One of the couples sought a divorce in Austin district court, and that divorce was granted. However, the Texas attorney general intervened by filing an appeal in the Third Court of Appeals. That court upheld the divorce, and the attorney general appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The other couple sought a divorce in Dallas, and the attorney general blocked that case from the beginning. The couple appealed their case to the state's highest court. The two cases were combined and, ironically, the two couples are now fighting together for the ability to get divorced.

At oral arguments in November, an attorney for the couples argued that the marriages are valid in Massachusetts, and that Texas doesn't have a right to intervene. The assistant attorney general argued that Texas does have a right to defend state law, which does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The state Supreme Court does not have a deadline in place for issuing a ruling, but one is expected this spring or for sure by the summer, when the court recesses.

Source: Dallas Voice, "2013 Year In Review: 3. Gay marriage, divorce became Texas issues," Anna Waugh, Dec. 27, 2013; Dallas Voice, "Texas Supreme Court weighs gay divorce," Anna Waugh, Nov. 8, 2013

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