Same-sex marriage an issue in ‘Pregnant Man’ divorce

Many in Massachusetts may recall the nationwide coverage of a transgender man who has given birth to three children with his wife of nine years. The couple is now facing a divorce proceeding. Their divorce, however, requires the court to ponder issues of gender identity, and the couple now find themselves embroiled within the current controversy over gay marriage and divorce.

The husband in this case was born female, but has undergone extensive surgery over the years, including a recent “final female-to-male gender reassignment surgery” which took place after the couple separated. He went through the legal process to have the state authorize his sex change, and obtained the required documentation prior to the couple’s 2003 wedding. He has also had his birth certificate and passport reissued to identify him as a male.

When the couple split, the husband was granted temporary full custody over their three children after he showed video of his wife attacking him.

The two are ready to move forward with their divorce proceeding, but have hit a bump in the courts. Despite all of his efforts to establish himself as a man, the judge who is presiding over the case has expressed doubt concerning how to proceed, and is still deliberating about the issue.

This case will likely make new headlines in Massachusetts once the court determines how to proceed with the divorce filing. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state in which the couple resides. Therefore, if the judge deems that the husband in this case is legally a female, their marriage could be invalidated, which would negate the possibility of a divorce. If that should occur, there could be complications involving issues of property division, child custody and spousal support. The case underscores the challenges that courts across the nation face in handling issues related to same-sex unions and marriages, as well as events of dissolution and divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, “‘Pregnant Man’ Thomas Beatie’s Divorce Proceedings Delayed As Judge Questions Union’s Legality,” Aug. 13, 2012

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