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Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

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Melissa Etheridge’s Union a Marriage or Just a Commitment?

Singer Melissa Etheridge and her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels are feuding over child custody, property division, child support, alimony and visitation rights – in short, every aspect of the couple’s relationship. Their case is probably a sign of what is to come for same-sex couples, as courts throughout the country begin to deal with same-sex marriages and divorces. These are new areas of the law, and the courts will probably look to other states and the wishes of their states’ voters in determining how to reach a decision.

Etheridge and Michaels’s dispute is taking place in California, which has a position on same-sex marriage and divorce unlike any other state. For a brief period of time – June 16, 2008  through November 5, 2008 – California granted same-sex marriage licenses, but then California voters passed Proposition 8, which limited marriage to between a man and a woman. State legislators then passed a law that permitted California to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Etheridge and Michaels find themselves in this legal limbo. They were raising twins together. Michaels gave birth to the boy and girl and claims that, after the couple’s nine years together, Etheridge left her and the children “penniless.” Michaels asked for a court to dissolve the marriage, as she thought she would be more likely to receive alimony, except California does not recognize same-sex marriages and only grants same-sex couples licenses. Etheridge claims that the vows the two exchanged were just a non-binding commitment, not a marriage.

The couple is struggling with the same problems that most couples do when they divorce after being together nearly a decade and raising children together. For example, Michaels mentioned that she gave up her acting career in 2001 to raise the couple’s children. Forgoing a career is a claim that we frequently see in divorce cases. It will be up to the California court to decide whether this is true and, if it is, to determine what award Michaels should receive.

John K. Grubb & Associates, P.C. – Houston divorce attorneys

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