In Family Law, the More Things Change The More They Stay The Same

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court held, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that the right to marry is a fundamental constitutional right, which may not be withheld from same sex couples and that no state may refuse to recognize such unions.

Just recently, in a Decision handed down right before the New Year, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, relying on Obergefell, held that Pennsylvania must recognize out of state “civil unions” as the functional equivalent of a same sex divorce/marriage, and their dissolution as an occurrence under the PA Divorce Code.

So what does that mean ? It means that gay married couples who no longer desire to stay married may file for divorce under the PA Divorce Code, and the courts will handle the dissolution of their unions the same way any other divorce is handled. In a way, the Newman v. Buckley case was inevitable, but it brings to mind that scene at the end of the Wizard of Oz when the Tinman tells Dorothy, “I know I have a heart because it’s breaking.”

Certainly, the Decision in Freyda Newman v. Florence Buckley is new law, and represents something gay couples need to consider. No one wants to think about a divorce, and particularly not when thinking about marriage, but it happens, and some couples would be wise to consider a prenuptial agreement. When a couple is older, has acquired property, has children from a prior marriage to consider, a prenup makes sense. In younger couples, where one is an owner of a growing business, or one expects to inherit a family business, a prenup might be considered to take the guesswork out of a divorce. It’s a difficult subject for couples in love to discuss, but sometimes it’s necessary.

With or without a prenuptial agreement, divorce is a stressful situation. Call the Family Law Lawyers at Timoney Knox. We can help. (Jan. 2017)