In the first week of January, Florida joined 35 other states in legalizing same-sex marriage. This has been met with a celebration by many couples who have now finally experienced their marriage ceremonies after years of waiting.
Another thing happened that day - same-sex spouses in Florida filed for divorce.
Most states do not allow divorces of same-sex marriages if they don't allow for those types of marriages within those states. Florida, for example, would not allow a same-sex couple married legally in Iowa to get a divorce in Florida because, before now, Florida did not consider it a legal marriage. Couples who were legally married in other states, but had moved to Florida, could not get divorced. Florida didn't allow it and they didn't meet the divorce residency requirements anymore of the states that allowed their marriages.
Now, that has all changed in Florida. The good and bad of marriage now applies to couples of all types.
This has all reminded me that veteran comedian Robert Klein put out a song called "The Right to Be Miserable, Too" which propounded the idea that, in a free society, everyone should have the right to be in a relationship that could end with large legal fees paid to divorce lawyers.
Now that Florida has joined the majority of states in allowing same-sex marriages, all those married couples can make use of the court system if things go wrong. If they adopt children together, they can undergo one of the most difficult things in life: a child custody battle.
They can argue over who gets the Tupperware, how to divide the retirement plans and who gets the paintings they bought each other for birthday presents. They can involve all of the mutual friends in a discussion of how much alimony should be paid from one spouse to the other. Once they each spend a fortune on the lawyers, they can even argue over whether one should pay some or all of the other's attorney's fees.
So what advice does a divorce lawyer have for the newlywed same-sex spouses? It's the same advice for any newlyweds: Be honest with each other on important things; always end the day with a goodnight kiss; deal with addiction issues early; listen to your spouse; don't hesitate to get individual or couples counseling.
There are lots of other good pieces of advice out there. I hope all the newlyweds in Florida and every other state enjoy marriages that last forever. I know you worry about how divorce lawyers will survive if that happens. Don't worry. We'll find something to do.
Congratulations to all!
Stann Givens has been practicing law in Florida for 41 years and is the founding partner of Givens Givens Sparks. He has been Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Marital and Family Lawyer since 1991, on the list of "Best Lawyers in America" since 1998, and been named a "Super Lawyer" since 2006.