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Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Florida

Since 2013, advocates for same-sex marriage have been working to legalize same-sex marriage (and same-sex divorce) in Florida. As of January 5, same-sex couples can now marry in Florida. The recent shift in the law makes Florida the 36th state in the country to permit same-sex marriage, according to a recent article in Florida Today.

What do you need to know about same-sex marriage, and how will it affect matters of Florida family law?

Florida’s Same-Sex Marriage Timeline

How did Florida law change with regard to same-sex marriage? The story begins officially in June of 2013, according to a recent article in the Miami Herald, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the case of Edith Windsor. Since then, a number of lawsuits and court decisions have set the stage for same-sex marriage in the state.

In September of 2013, a Florida woman filed a lawsuit to divorce her wife, with whom she was legally bound by a civil union performed in Vermont. Since Florida did not permit same-sex marriage, the state also refused to allow same-sex divorces. By January of 2014, several same-sex couples filed a claim against the Miami-Dade County Clerk for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Several additional lawsuits followed, in which same-sex couples that had been married outside Florida sought recognition of their marriage within the state. Other related lawsuits continued to come into the Florida court system.

By July 2014, the Chief Circuit Judge of Monroe County ruled that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. A Miami-Dade Circuit Judge ruled shortly thereafter that same-sex couples were permitted to marry in the state. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed these decisions.

In August of 2014, a U.S. District Judge in Tallahassee ruled that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. Bondi appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the ruling in Tallahassee, thereby effectively preventing same-sex marriages from taking place. The 11th Circuit denied Bondi’s request to extend this stay. Bondi then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which also denied her request to extend the stay. As such, same-sex marriages were then set to begin on January 6, 2015. Since January 6, 2015, same-sex marriages have been performed throughout the state.

Planning for Same-Sex Marriage

According to the report in Florida Today, now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state, Floridians need to think about the planning differences for same-sex couples. Specifically, since many of these couples have been living together for years—unlike many heterosexual couples who marry in the state—they’ve already been buying property together and co-mingling their funds.

These issues can be particularly complicated in Florida, where more than 10 percent of same-sex couples are over the age of 65. Thus in addition to thinking about distinctions between separate and marital property, many same-sex couples in Florida will also need to make estate-planning changes.

Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney

If you have questions about any of these significant family law matters, you should speak with an experienced Hollywood family law attorney. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.

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