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Who’s Eligible for Divorce? Not Just Straight Couples, Says Ohio Judge

You’ve seen the headlines about gay marriage…but gay divorce?

Like any other long-term, committed relationship, gay marriages can sometimes come on hard times. And, although gay marriage is not recognized in the state, one Ohio judge recently made a ruling that indicates gay divorce very well may be.

Same-Sex Columbus Couple Married In New York, Divorced At Home

Two Columbus men, Jonathan Baize and Stephen Wissman, both 31, were granted a divorce in mid March by a private judge appointed by the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court. While it is certainly unorthodox for both parties in an Ohio divorce proceeding to be men, one Columbus divorce attorney described the 10-minute hearing to the Columbus Dispatch as “unremarkable.”

The men were married on Sept. 1, 2011 in a ceremony in New York. They returned to Columbus, but later agreed to divorce – a decision that raised questions about Ohio law.

In 2004, Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that barred gay marriage. Supporters of the prohibition on same-sex marriage argued that by granting a divorce to a gay couple, a court would be tacitly acknowledging that the marriage was, in fact, valid.

Yet, proponents pointed out that Ohio’s applicable state law and constitutional marriage amendment refer only to marriage, not divorce. The judge handling the same-sex divorce apparently accepted this interpretation, and tidily dissolved the men’s New York marriage.

While March’s gay divorce may be among the first of its kind in Ohio, it is unlikely to be the last. Even with Ohio’s marriage amendment in place, legal questions surrounding the status of same-sex couples abound.

Gay Marriage Subject of Pressing Developments, But Same-Sex Couples May Benefit From Legal Protections Already In Place

It is uncertain exactly what the future holds for Ohio’s same-sex couples. Indeed, some groups are intent on redefining marriage yet again though a constitutional amendment, this time allowing for same-sex marital unions in Ohio.

Whatever the outcome of these efforts, it is clear that same-sex couples still have family law tools at their disposal. Even without a marriage recognized in Ohio, gay couples may be able to turn to an established procedure to part ways equitably – as evidenced by the recent gay divorce ruling.

While it can be a thorny subject in a state that bans same-sex marriage, gay divorce – or whatever you want to call its procedural equivalent – can nonetheless offer important safeguards for individuals at the end of a relationship. To learn more, get in touch with a Columbus divorce attorney today.