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Appeals court reverses judges refusal to grant divorce

New Jersey residents concerned with issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights may be interested to hear the outcome of a court case involving the marriage and divorce of a couple where one individual completed gender reassignment surgery. In Indiana, where the case took place, same-sex marriage is illegal, and marriages from other states where it is lawful are not recognized. This led to a judge stating that the state would not grant a divorce to a couple who was originally married as a man and a woman because both members were of the same gender after the surgery and that the union was no longer recognized.

The case went to appeals court, where a three-judge panel struck down the lower court's ruling. According to the panel, the marriage took place when the individuals were opposite sexes, and thus fell within the state's legal definition of marriage. The fact that one person later changed their gender does not invalidate the original lawfulness of their union.

The court went on to say that the law was only to prohibit same-sex couples who were wed in other states from having their marriages recognized in Indiana. As a result of the ruling, the couple's divorce will be able to proceed, and both will still have parental rights to the couple's children.

Laws related to same-sex marriage are complex and frequently change, and they often vary from state to state. Divorce between two individuals of any gender can be a contentious process, which is why those considering ending their marriage may want to speak with a divorce lawyer. A lawyer may be able to help someone understand how the process works in their state and to let them know what to expect.

Source: Advocate, "Indiana Appeals Court: Gender Change Does Not Void Marriage", Parker Molloy, January 02, 2014

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