Can Same Sex Couples Get Divorced in Ohio?

As with most legal issues, there is no simple answer to the question of whether same sex couples can obtain a divorce in the State of Ohio.  Although in 2004, Ohio voters approved an amendment to the State's constitution to ban same sex marriage, recent developments in county domestic relations courts around Ohio suggest that same sex couples legally married in another state may obtain a divorce in Ohio.  For example, a Franklin County, Ohio judge recently granted a divorce to two men who married in New York.  Additionally, Vanessa McCray of The Blade, notes in a recent article that judges in several other Ohio counties, particularly Lucas County, Ohio, have been granting same sex divorces since at least 2012.  (Click here for article). 

In the opinion of this attorney, there are strong arguments supporting Ohio courts' authority to grant same sex couples a divorce.  First, the plain language of the 2004 amendment specifically bans safe sex marriage in Ohio but says nothing of banning same sex divorce. Further, Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution states that "[f]ull faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state . . . ."  Ohio judges could easily rely on this "full faith and credit" clause to justify divorcing same sex couples legally married in another state.  Additionally, Ohio courts have authority to dissolve other types of marriages not recognized under Ohio law.  As pointed out by Ms. McCray, these types of marriages include common law marriages and marriages involving minors.  

In conclusion, although the jury is still out on whether Ohio courts can officially divorce same sex couples legally married in another state, it seems that Ohio courts, albeit on a county by county basis, are gradually tending in this direction.  As always, the foregoing is in no way intended to constitution legal advice and is merely opinion expressed by the author.