Along with Same-Sex Marriage Comes the Freedom to Divorce

Same-Sex Marriage Comes the Freedom to Divorce When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that any laws prohibiting same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, same-sex couples became free to marry in every state including Tennessee, where before this ruling the state had enacted a State Constitution based ban. Along with marriage equality and the ability for same-sex couples to marry, came the freedom to divorce for those who had been legally married in other states. (When the Supreme Court ruling was announced on June 26, 2015, a couple actually filed for divorce on the evening of that same day.)

Now any couple who meets the residency requirements may divorce in Tennessee. The requirements stipulate that the spouse who is filing for divorce must be either a resident of the state when the grounds for divorce took place or if the acts complained of were committed out of this state at least one of the spouses must be a resident for six months prior to filing a complaint for divorce in Tennessee. All of the Tennessee divorce laws apply equally to all married couples.

Challenges facing same-sex couples in divorce in Tennessee

While most of the issues which accompany divorce, like asset division or spousal support, are identical for any couple getting divorced, there may be a few challenges when it comes to deciding child custody and child support for LGBT couples. Because the children in a same-sex union are typically either the biological relative of only one of the parents, unless the non-biological parent has legally adopted the child prior to the divorce, that parent may not have legal standing in custody proceedings. He or she may end up with the status equal to a step-parent or grandparent when it comes to deciding custody until and unless the laws governing child custody in Tennessee evolve along with the changing faces of marriages in the United States.

While the Supreme Court’s ruling has ended the patchwork map of laws from state to state, there are still other laws that will likely change as more and more same-sex couples get married and get divorced. Contact LaFevor & Slaughter in Knoxville to learn more about the divorce process in Tennessee.