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Judge's ruling impacts more than same-sex marriage in Ohio

On Tuesday, April 15, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black made a precedential ruling in Ohio. In a case that was filed over birth certificates, the judge ruled that the current law in Ohio banning the recognition of same-sex marriages legally entered into in other states was unconstitutional.

Although the decision itself has been temporarily stayed, the effects of the ruling will stretch not only into other areas of family law, but into other courts within the state such as probate or criminal courts.

In the decision, Judge Black said that “When a state effectively terminates the marriage of a same-sex couple married in another jurisdiction by refusing to recognize the marriage, that state unlawfully intrudes into the realm of private marital, family and intimate relations specifically protected by the Supreme Court.”

What does this mean for same-sex spouses that live in Ohio? It would open up the possibility of a same-sex spouse being able to legally adopt a child that she has already been raising as her own. It would give another spouse more property rights during a divorce from his husband. In fact, it would give that spouse a divorce that is recognized in the first place.

We mentioned that the ruling could affect other areas as well. For instance, the marital privilege would protect an individual from having to testify against his or her same-sex spouse in civil or criminal court. It would mean that same-sex spouses would be eligible for marital tax benefits and job protection while they care for a spouse that is ill.

What does this law not change? It doesn’t change the fact that individuals should consult with a family law attorney in matters relating to such things as divorce or dissolution, support or child custody. The outcome matters in these cases, which is exactly why the quality of representation matters as well. 

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Other states’ gay marriages ruled valid in Ohio,” Alan Johnson, April 15, 2014

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