The Right to Marry, the Right to Separate: The Case of Taramarie Gulledge
2015 — While many celebrated the court’s ruling of legalizing same-sex marriage, a smaller group in Tennessee rejoiced for a related yet also totally different reason. The ruling also meant the right to same-sex divorce.
The news reported of Taramarie Gulledge, a Clarksville woman who filed the first divorce paperwork in Tennessee. She filed for separation in Montgomery County Chancery Court just before the courthouse closed.
Since its ruling, everyone welcomed the idea of same-sex marriage with open arms. The acceptance, however, came with questions about this type of marriage, says a blog from Divorce Matters, especially in terms of divorce.
So what can one of the first same-sex divorces in the country tell about separation?
The End of a Happy Ending
The couple got married in Shelbyville, Indiana on June 4, 2014 — just a day before Friday’s ruling on same-sex marriage. During that time, they couldn’t seek a proper divorce. To end the marriage, one of the spouses should move to a state that recognized same-sex marriage while filing for residency. The entire process took six months.
In her complaint, Gulledge used irreconcilable differences and inappropriate material conduct against her ex. She also asked the court for a temporary restraining order to prevent Carol Lyn Wolf-Gulledge, her wife, from gaining custody of their toddler and taking the child outside of the state.
Before the ruling, same-sex couples who married lacked legal remedies. Today, however, they have everything — divorce and child support included.
Non-resident, Same-Sex Divorces
Before the Obergefell v. Hodges case fell through, same sex couples can only separate in jurisdictions that recognized same-sex marriages, with a few exceptions. For example, petitions for divorce in Texas resulted in pending cases before the Supreme Court. Also, two women reportedly married in Massachusetts and moved to Florida to challenge the state’s stand on marriage and divorce.
Today, courts deal with gay divorce at a federal level. Couples have the liberty of separating easier, unlike Gulledge and her partner. Still, it pays to consult the state’s laws first to settle complex situations.