August 6, 2014, could be a significant day for legal issues regarding gay marriage and divorce in Ohio. Oral arguments in several appellate cases relating to same-sex marriage will be heard by United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on that date, possibly resulting in new precedent for Ohio courts to consider in matters of same-sex divorce.
Gay couples attempting to divorce in Columbus have had mixed results. In March 2012, a gay couple married in New York were able to terminate their marriage by way of dissolution in Franklin County. In July of that same year, a lesbian couple had their dissolution rejected in Franklin County based upon the judge’s determination that the court did not have jurisdiction over the dissolution because of Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
While the appeals pending before the Sixth Circuit do not directly address the issue of same-sex divorce, the cases involve the issue of recognition of same-sex marriages obtained in other states. If the binding precedent of the Sixth Circuit holds that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages obtained in other states, notwithstanding Ohio’s current ban, it is possible – if not likely – that the denial of the dissolution that occurred in July 2012 would not happen in the future.