Nashville Attorney Lisa Ewing


Family life is complicated. Relationships with children, romantic partners and extended family members form a complex web that can be very difficult to navigate.

It stands to reason that family law, like family life, can be very complex. One recent Tennesseedivorce case is a good example of the kind of intricate legal challenges that can accompany a family law case.

Granting divorce means Tennessee would have to recognize same-sex marriages

As of early 2014, 17 states have legalized same-sex marriage. Tennessee is not among them. In fact, Tennessee even has state laws, as well as a constitutional amendment, specifically banning same-sex marriages.

The policy of Tennessee is to not recognize same-sex marriages performed under the valid laws of another state. But, this can be a thorny issue; even though states may elect to not perform same-sex marriages within their borders, there are clauses in the U.S. Constitution that suggest that even if a state bans same-sex marriages, it may have to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the valid laws of other states.

Recognition of a marriage by a state has a number of implications, from tax consequences to eligibility for government benefits. One of the most important elements of state recognition of a marriage is access to the family law courts when it becomes necessary to dissolve that marriage.

In late January, the first Tennessee same-sex divorce case was filed. The couple married three years ago in New Hampshire, where same-sex marriage is legal. But, both partners now live in Tennessee, and are unable to return to New Hampshire to get a divorce because the laws of that state require those seeking a divorce to establish residency by living there for at least a year prior.

If the divorce is granted, it would be a landmark case in Tennessee. Being the first same-sex divorce filed in the state, commentators are speculating that the case could go as high as the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Should the divorce be granted, it would not necessarily mean that same-sex marriage would be legal in Tennessee, only that the state recognizes marriages performed under the laws of another jurisdiction. There has been a string of court decisions in other states striking down portions of same-sex marriage bans that prevent states from recognizing marriages legally performed in other states since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court handing down a ruling on the issue.

Your family law case may be equally complicated; get the help you need from a lawyer

Your family law issue probably does not involve same-sex divorce – in fact, at this time, only one family law case in Tennessee does. But, the unique issues in your divorce, child custody problem, prenuptial agreement or other family law situation could be just as complex.

An experienced Tennessee family law attorney can sort out the issues in your case. Your lawyer will help you pursue positive solutions through strategic negotiations, and if that fails, will argue on your behalf in front of a family law judge.

Every family law case is unique in its own way, whether that means something as large-scale as confronting an unresolved conflict of state and federal law or something as personal as where your children prefer to spend their time. Whatever your family law concerns, your lawyer will be by your side, fighting for your best interests, pursuing the outcome you desire. Bring your family law issue to the attention of a Tennessee attorney today, and find out more about the legal resolutions that may be available to you.