The issue of how to apply family law to same-sex a relationship is one that Ohio has not yet fully come to terms with yet. As most everyone likely knows, the state constitution bans marriages that are not between a man and a woman — though court challenges in the works might see that changed.
At the same time, the last few years have revealed situations in which some judges in the state have seen their way clear to grant divorces to same-sex couples who were married in states where such unions are legal.
Some readers may be interested in seeing an article about one such judge that we wrote not too long ago. The point of the piece was to highlight how one judge, even though the constitution bars gay marriage, had determined that the law doesn’t ban gay couples who were married legally in other states from divorcing in Ohio.
That’s a point of view that isn’t shared by supporters of the constitutional ban. And as a recent article in The Blade observed, there are plenty of sitting judges in Ohio who are of the opinion that granting a gay couple a divorce is against the law because it would be tantamount to acknowledging that they had been legally married
What has resulted is a patchwork of legal decisions across the state. Depending on what county you happen to be filing in and what judge happens to be hearing your petition, a same-sex couple may or may not be able to obtain a divorce.
Adding potential confusion to the mix is that in Ohio it is possible to hire a private judge to handle the divorce or dissolution. As an item last year in The Columbus Dispatch noted, the use of a private judge for a divorce case is workable if the matter is being handled as an uncontested action. In other words, both sides have agreed to the terms of the split.
In the end, what this reflects is the availability of options and the fact that by using a private judge, it may be possible to obtain the justice intended under family law, regardless of the gender of the spouses.