LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage last Friday, it also granted these couples the right to divorce. Do East Texas lawyers anticipate these divorces to be any different than heterosexual divorce?
"I really don't see any difference at all except that both parties will be of the same gender," said Lufkin attorney Wayne Haglund. "The application of the law will be no different."
Before the ruling, same-sex couples in Texas didn't have the same rights while separating as married couples who were divorcing did.
"In Texas there's no legal separation for same-sex couples, much less opposite-sex couples," said Lufkin attorney Jose Gonzalez. "That wasn't an avenue for folks to begin with."
According to Luan Tatum, an attorney who has dealt with cases of same-sex couples separating, it was extremely difficult and expensive for these couples to divide their assets because they didn't have legal status. However, no it will be an easier task.
"It will make it easier for them, which makes it easier for us because we have all the same laws we can use in divorce for opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples," Tatum said.
"There was no way for a same-sex couple to have shared benefits, to have access to one another in the hospital," Haglund said. "So this opens up a world of opportunities for them."
Attorneys say the new legal status will also make it easier to deal with child custody battles among same-sex couples/
"It makes it easier in situations when children are involved," Tatum said. "It will make it a lot easier to manage custody issues and make sure the children's rights are protected."
Attorneys said they will be professional and not treat same-sex couples divorcing any differently than heterosexual couples.
"Our job is not to inject our personal feelings into our work," Haglund said. "It is to interpret for our clients what the law is and how it applies to particular circumstance."