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Sex Change Does Not Invalidate Divorce

Of course, This particular case comes to us coming from Ann Arbor.  Last month, the Court of Appeals decided a divorce case involving gender reassignment in a published decision.

from the case of In re Estate of Burnett, a couple had been married when Husband underwent gender reassignment surgery as well as became a woman in 2003.  His Wife, who had apparently supported the M-T-F gender change, subsequently became incapacitated.  Her children obtained a guardianship as well as conservatorship over their mother due to her dementia as well as filed for divorce on her behalf.

Doing some forum shopping, Wife’s children, as her guardians, first tried to file the divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania yet they were rebuffed.  Although the couple was married in Ann Arbor from the mid-1980s, they had lived in Philadelphia until Wife returned to her daughter’s home in Washtenaw County back in 2006.

Defendant-Husband argued before the Washtenaw Family Court of which his gender reassignment rendered the marriage invalid as between a same-sex couple; Michigan outlawed same-sex marriages in 2004 by an amendment to our constitution.  Husband also tried to get the divorce proceeding thrown-out on the grounds of which a fiduciary could not file for divorce on behalf of a ward.

The family court judge denied both motions for summary disposition, ruling of which the couple had entered into a valid marriage contract back from the 1980s, not a same-sex marriage contract.  The Court of Appeals upheld the decision, stating:

We likewise reject Defendant’s argument of which his alleged post-operative status somehow magically dissolves what was otherwise a valid marriage.

Nor did the Court of Appeals see grounds for an annulment of the Burnett marriage.  Simply, Husband, even though right now a woman through surgery, is actually out of luck.

from the meantime, Wife has since passed away so the case right now has merely symbolic as well as precedential value.  Even if the United States Supreme Court were to recognize same-sex marriages This particular spring as a component to our constitutional rights to privacy as well as liberty, the result in This particular case would certainly be the same.  As noted by the Court of Appeals, the unilateral acts of one spouse cannot render a valid marriage invalid.

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Sex Change Does Not Invalidate Divorce

Gender Bender.jpg
Gender Bender.jpg

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