Tag Archives: GLBT Issues

Last week’s decision in US v. Windsor

Even in light of last week's decision in US v. Windsor, ruling parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, many issues still remain in the evolving debate of marriage equality. One which I see almost on a daily basis involves the right or ability of same sex couples who are legally married to break up and divorce. In other words, a couple goes to a state that sanctions same sex marriage and has the ceremony performed, then that couple moves to Texas where they decide to break up. Because Texas has a state-version of DOMA that prohibits recognition of legal same sex marriages in other states, and because section 2 of the federal DOMA does not require Texas to give full faith and credit under the US Constitution to the marriage laws of other states, couples may be left with no remedy. In Texas, we cannot file a divorce for those legally married, same sex couples. If they own property together, we cannot use our state's marital property division laws to apportion their property. We cannot help a same sex spouse who, through disability or lack of earning capacity, cannot support himself or herself after depending on the other spouse for financial support during the marriage.… Continue Reading

Love Wins: Section 3 of DOMA is Overturned

The US Supreme Court issued their decision today in US v. Windsor regarding the federal government's right to deny benefits to legally married same sex couples. SCOTUS ruled that section three of the Defense of Marriage Act, the section that prohibits same sex federal benefits, is unconstitutional on the grounds of equal protection. This is a monumentous day for same sex couples - giving same sex marriages equal status with heterosexual marriages at the federal government level. This decision is not binding on Texas state law, however. Section 2 of DOMA says that states do not have to recognize same sex marriages from other states, and that section still stands today. The Windsor opinion gives hope for the future of the rights of LGBT couples to marry (and divorce).… Continue Reading

How is the gay marriage controversy impacting the state of Texas and the family law practice area? What issues do attorneys need to be aware of?

The gay marriage controversy is forcing all citizens of the state of Texas to reexamine what "marriage" means. Is marriage simply a religious concept implemented through the government that supports the traditional one man/one woman viewpoint? Certainly that is the current state of the law in Texas.… Continue Reading

Both Moms Have Parental Rights

So, the question is what happens when two women are in a relationship, woman #1 donates her egg to woman #2 and woman #2 gives birth to the baby? Which one is the "mother"? Under Texas divorce law, the answer is that woman #2, as the birth mother, is the legal parent and woman #1, as a donor under the law, has no parental rights....… Continue Reading

Dallas Same Sex Custody Dispute: Battle For Recognition of Parental Rights by LGBT Parents

Child custody battles are always difficult, and can be ugly. But a recent Dallas child custody dispute shows the lengths that gay parents must go to fight for the right to parent their non-biological children if they split up from the child's biological parent. In the case fought out in Dallas family law courtrooms, a Texas mother petitioned for custody of a child she had raised since birth with her lesbian partner (the child's biological mother).… Continue Reading

Same-Sex Divorce in Texas: Austin Court of Appeals Opens the Door

Last Friday the Third Court of Appeals at Austin affirmed a Travis County trial court's ruling granting a same-sex divorce in Texas, in Cause No. 03-10-00237-CV, State v. Naylor and Daly. The appeal from the divorce judgment was brought not by either of the parties, as they had agreed upon the division of property and the child custody modification included in the decree the trial court approved, but by the State of Texas.… Continue Reading

Learning Lessons From A Tragedy

Some of you may have heard about the tragic suicide death of Debie Hackett recently. Her family drama has been played out in the local media over the past few months regarding the litigation between Ms. Hackett and her former lesbian partner Ms. Ferris.… Continue Reading

Same Sex Couple Divorce and Parenting Issues

On Thursday, June 17, I will be participating as a panelist in the State Bar of Texas Family Law Update: Same Sex Couple Divorce/Parenting Issues webcast seminar. This two-hour webcast is intended to inform the family law practitioner about recent developments in same-sex family law cases. Dallas and Austin have both recently litigated gay divorces; the 5th and 9th Courts of Appeal have recently issued opinions addressing standing for same-sex parents.… Continue Reading

Green Light for Suit for Access to Child by Lesbian Nonparent

The Dallas Court of Appeals has given the green light to a nonparent woman to seek access to the child with whom she had a substantial relationship. In In re M.K.S., the Dallas Court of Appeals held that the nonparent woman had established sufficient evidence of a pattern of conduct over a significant amount of time that the child would be involved with the nonparent woman, thus giving her the right under Texas Law to seek access… Continue Reading

Dallas Judge: Ban on Gay Marriage and Divorce Unconstitutional: UPDATE

Dallas 302nd state District Judge Tena Callahan ruled Thursday that the state's bans on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law. She said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction." Her ruling clears the way for two gay men to legally divorce in Texas.… Continue Reading

Resources for LGBT parents

A client referred me to the website www.colage.org as a resource for LGBT parents. COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parents. I found the website very insightful… Continue Reading
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