Court is Closed to Gay Couple

In September 2014, a North Texas judge threw out a same-sex divorce petition, claiming that he had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Brooke Powell and Cori Jo Long were married in New Hampshire in 2010. Ms. Powell had originally asked Tarrant County District Judge William Harris to void the marriage. But Ms. Long asked for a divorce instead, because to simply void the marriage would leave questions of property division and spousal support unanswered. In the end, Judge Harris cited the state’s Defense of Marriage Act and said that he had no jurisdiction to enter any orders on any dispute stemming from a same-sex marriage.

Ms. Long said she plans to appeal.

Changing Times

In 2005, Proposition 2, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Texas, passed by a three-to-one margin. 253 of 254 counties voted “yes” – Travis County was the only “no.” Now, not even ten years later, the law is clearly in flux.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in San Antonio struck down the state’s prohibition of gay marriage, but stayed the ruling pending appeal. In his opinion, Judge Orlando Garcia cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor v. U.S., which invalidated key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Opponents of same-sex marriage generally cite moral or religious objections to gay marriage, while the issue is essentially equal rights as far as proponents are concerned. The argument seems to be resonating with people, judges and lawmakers. In 2005, zero states allowed same-sex marriage. As of October 2013, 19 states and the District of Columbia had legalized gay marriage.

A Leg to Stand On

If your non-traditional family is in transition, speak to an experienced family law attorney in Houston. Texas courts have previously entered orders regarding bigamist marriages. These unions are not legally recognized in the state, yet the courts still granted relief to these families. At the very least, you may be able to get some protective, support or custody orders entered for the best interest of a child.

Contact us today for your consultation.