A same-sex couple married on August 10, 2010, in Washington D.C. After relocating to Texas, they registered their certificate of marriage as a foreign judgment in that state. On February 13, 2013, the parties had a child; one of them, later the respondent in this divorce proceeding, was the biological mother. Her first initial is K.
On February 18, 2014, the other spouse, the petitioner in this matter (first initial A), filed this case in state court, seeking a divorce or in the alternative, an order acknowledging her parental rights. K. responded by arguing that because Texas laws prohibited same-sex marriage and did not recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, the court lacked authority to either grant a divorce or acknowledge her ex-wife's parental rights. K. also asserted that A. was not the biological or adoptive mother of the child.
A then argued that denying her ability to file for a divorce in Texas violated both the Equal Protection and the Due Process Clauses and that sections of the Texas Family Code banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. She requested a declaratory judgment and a temporary order requiring the State to recognize the parties' marriage.
After hearing arguments, on April 22, 2014, the trial court (Judge Barbara Hanson Nellermoe) ruled that sections of the Texas Family Code banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and therefore that the divorce petition was proper. The court also found that the statute illegally denied a specific group of citizens the right to parent their own children. The court informed the Texas Attorney General's office of its ruling; the State then filed a petition to intervene in the ongoing litigation. The State also filed a motion in the appellate court, arguing that the trial court had acted improperly when it heard a motion challenging the constitutionality of a state statute without giving prior notice to the State.
The appellate court (Judge Marialyn Barnard) issued a temporary stay on April 22, 2014, and on May 28, 2014, held that the trial court had abused its discretion by failing to provide prior notice to the Attorney General of the constitutional challenge to Texas state law. Judge Barnard directed the trial court to vacate its April 22, 2014. A.L.F.L. v. K.L.L. (In Re State of Texas), 2014 WL 2443910 (Ct.A.4th.D.TX)
On June 9, 2014, the State filed a motion to stay or abate the appeal while cases that dealt with similar legal issues were pending before the Texas Supreme Court. The appellate court granted the abatement, but on August 10, 2014, the State filed an emergency motion asking the court to lift the abatement for the limited purpose of granting an emergency stay, arguing that the trial court continued to conduct trial proceedings in this matter.
On August 13, 2014, the appellate court ordered the previous abatement lifted for the sole purpose of ordering the trial court not to take any action relating to its June 30, 2014, order or to take any other action with regard to the matters at issue in this appeal. In the Matter of the Marriage of A.L.F.L. and K.L.L., and in the Interest of K.A.F.L., a Child, 2014 WL 4357457 (Ct.4th.D.TX)
On June 26, 2015, eleven months after the appellate court issued their stay, same-sex marriage became legal in Texas with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges. 576 U.S (2015). Accordingly in this matter, on June 30, the appellate court labeled the proceeding "abated" - and on July 29, dismissed the parties' appeals as moot. In the Matter of the Marriage of A.L.F.L. and K.L.L., and in the Interest of K.A.F.L., a Child, 2015 WL 4561231 (Ct.4th.D.TX)
We have no record of how the matter continued to address the custody issues.Katherine Reineck - 03/22/2015
Beth Richardson - 08/12/2015