Gay marriage ruling may impact Texas family law

Judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit heard arguments on Jan. 9 related to gay marriage bans in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. After the arguments, two of the judges expressed doubt about the legality of the bans. One of the judges questioned why sterile heterosexual couples would be allowed to marry but not same sex couples if states wanted to use marriage to encourage procreation.

While many federal courts have moved to overturn bans on gay marriage, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit had upheld bans in four states in November 2014. This split in opinion is assumed to be the impetus for a formal U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the legality of gay marriage bans. A gay marriage ban was overturned by a Texas district court, but the ruling was put on hold as higher courts debated the matter.

The Texas ban was overturned because it denied same-sex couples equal protection under the law. While the Supreme Court has not yet said whether it will take up any pending gay marriage cases, many states have overturned existing bans based on a 2013 Supreme Court decision that gave greater federal recognition to same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples who are in the midst of a child custody or divorce dispute may wish to consult with a family law attorney who can assess recent court decisions that may grant such couples child custody and other rights that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. If same-sex marriages are declared legal, the custodial parent may also be entitled to child support. Child support is often awarded in order to protect the best interests of a child after a divorce.

Source: Reuters, “Court weighs overturning gay marriage bans in three southern states”, Jonathan Kaminsky, Jan. 9, 2015