July 5, 2013 – Dallas – The Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. law firm is gearing up to see more cases involving court decisions on gay marriage. With the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on the unconstitutional nature of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, 2013, and two major same-sex divorce cases awaiting decision at the Texas Supreme Court, the state of the ban on gay marriage in Texas is expected to heat up.
The firm’s lead family law attorney, Gary Warren, sees the DOMA repeal as a move toward major changes in Texas laws for marriage, divorce and child custody. “The issue of obtaining a divorce in Texas for a same-sex couple is still a question to be determined by the Texas Supreme Court,” he stated. “However, the ruling today may assist in the final outcome of the cases involving the issue of the standing of same-sex couples married in another state and seeking to dissolve their marriage in Texas.”
Currently, Texas law defines marriage only as, “the union of one man and one woman” and specifically states that no legal status identical or similar to marriage may be created or recognized. This has led to the two cases currently before the Texas Supreme Court in which same-sex spouses married another state can be granted a divorce when the state does not recognize theirs as a valid marriage.
“The issue of whether a same-sex couple can divorce in Texas is yet to be decided.” said Mr. Warren. “However, the opinion today will make it much harder, or impossible, based on the full faith and credit given laws and ruling of other states under the U.S. constitution for the Courts in Texas, to deny same-sex couples access to the courts to dissolve their marriages. In this regard, the ruling will have, in my opinion, a major and dispositive impact.”
The Effect of the DOMA Repeal On Child Custody and Adoption in Texas
Adoptions by same-sex couples in Texas have been legal, and the laws continue to evolve as more of these cases arise. Cases of child custody between same-sex parents will continue to be based upon the regular factors of custody, such as the general parental rights for biological or adoptive children, financial stability and above all, the best interests of the child.
Mr. Warren says that same-sex couples seeking to adopt can do so on the same grounds as a married couple of opposite sexes. The trouble he now sees most often is that due to the practice of listing only one parent on the child’s birth certificate when a child is born to or adopted, the custody ruling typically falls to the biological or birth certificate parent by default. “It can be a gut-wrenching experience,” he says, “because the biological parent may not be the parent who should have custody in such situations.”
With the Supreme Court’s decision on Prop 8 in California now heralded as a potential catalyst for support in other states, Texas same-sex couples will continue to wait for new legislation to arise for their equal rights. Until Texas comes to a new court decision on gay marriage, Mr. Warren urges same sex couples to seek professional advice when dealing with any legal matters in which marital status is involved.
About Dallas Family Law Attorney Gary Warren
Gary Warren is the lead family law attorney at the Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. Dallas divorce and bankruptcy law firm. For more than 20 years, Mr. Warren has helped Dallas families with matters of divorce, child custody, and support agreements and modifications.
The family law team at Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. puts the needs of the family first when it comes to settling the delicate matters of divorce, custody and support. Mr. Warren strives to make family law cases as simple and fair as possible to avoid adding additional burdens to the family.
Mr. Warren is the author of Untying the Knot: Your Guide to Getting Divorced in Texas, which is available free to download online. For more free information on Texas divorce and family law matters, visit the Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. website at wmtxlaw.com.