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Same-sex family law issues still arise despite marriage bans

Currently, Georgia does not allow same-sex marriages, but courts still must deal with legal issues surrounding these unions. Rulings made by courts in liberal regions sometimes pose challenges to existing bans or prohibitions on same-sex couples, as was illustrated by a case in another state that has a constitutional ban on gay marriages.

A court in Travis County in Texas, an area that is traditionally Democratic, issued a decision in 2010 that granted two women a divorce. They had originally married in 2004 in a state that allowed same-sex marriages. Eventually the state attorney general's office challenged the ruling. The state argued that a court could not dissolve a marriage that was not legally recognized by the state's law.

The challenge went all the way to the state Supreme Court, but the entirely Republican court sent back a 5-3 decision that upheld the divorce. The Supreme Court reasoned that the state had not acted quickly enough to challenge the 2010 ruling because the attorney general's office had waited months before taking action. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott criticized the decision and said it had been based on a technicality.

Although laws applying to same-sex couples continue to develop, someone involved in such a union can still seek legal remedies and protections in various family situations. In the absence of the ability to marry, a couple might choose to work with attorneys to write a domestic partnership agreement. Using strategies based in contract law, family law and estate planning, a couple could create a legal framework for its union. An attorney could also advise a person who needs to end a same-sex union. Some family law principles could apply to the necessary division of property and assets.

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