The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that a man who legally changed his gender from female to male was allowed to pursue a divorce from his wife. A Maricopa County Family Court judge had previously ruled that the man and his wife were engaged in a same-sex relationship. The ruling was made because the man still had female organs, which were retained because his wife was unable to have children.
As Arizona does not recognize same-sex unions, the marriage and the right to divorce would not apply. The Maricopa County judge who blocked the divorce did so despite evidence that the couple consisted of a man and a woman. Before the marriage took place, the man had his birth certificate and driver’s license changed to show that he was male. The appellate court ruled that individuals are allowed to legally amend their gender and to deny that right could violate equal-protection laws.
Family law experts believe that this ruling could set a precedent for other transgender couples who are looking to get a divorce. The last case involving a transgender couple seeking a divorce was in the 1970s. In that case, the validity of the marriage was called into question. An attorney for the man said that the most important thing about the ruling was that his children were considered to have been born in wedlock.
When a LGBT couple divorces, courts will generally rule based how marriages are treated under state law. In Arizona, same-sex marriages are not considered valid marriages regardless of the state in which they were married. Anyone in such a situationwho is seeking a divorce may wish to talk to a family law attorney. The attorney may clarify the status of the marriage ahead of time and may work to ensure that all rights are protected during the process.
Source: AZFamily.com, “Court: Transgender man in Ariz. can keep pursuing divorce”, Jacques Billeaud, August 15, 2014