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Gender identity issue complicates Arizona divorce case

An unusual divorce case in Arizona has gained the attention of many people across the United States and is of interest not only to advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage, but also to those who are interested in family law issues in general.

One of the partners in the marriage was born female but underwent medical procedures to become male. However, he retained his female reproductive organs and bore three children after his sex change. His wife was not able to conceive, so the man became pregnant with donated semen. The judge presiding over the case has delayed making any decisions. Granting a divorce to the couple involved would mean recognizing the marriage as a valid marriage, and Arizona currently does not recognize same-sex marriages.

The judge has expressed confusion as to whether or not the marriage is a same-sex marriage. A trial is scheduled for the end of January, and the judge is expected to make a ruling in early February. If the judge determines that he cannot grant a divorce because the marriage is a same-sex marriage, the partners will have to go back to court to resolve a temporary parenting time order; they would also have to have their property divided in a civil court.

A skilled and experienced family law attorney may be necessary to help a couple resolve a divorce if there are new family legal issues involved, even if the divorce is amicable. A couple may need the help of an attorney if they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages but wish to divorce in a state that does not recognize such marriages.

Source: Huffington Post, "'Pregnant Man' Thomas Beatie's Divorce Stalled," Jacques Billeaud, Dec. 31, 2012

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