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Arizona “Pregnant Man” May Get a Divorce

By Snyder & Sarno on August 15, 2014

Recently, many states, like New Jersey, have recognized and legalized same sex marriage. This is important in that it not only grants equal rights to marriage to same sex couples, but it also gives same sex couples equal rights to divorce. Because of this, same sex couples who may later end their marriages will have the same rights under divorce as opposite sex couples, like rights to property distribution and maintenance. However, same sex couples who are married in a state that recognize it, will not be able to get divorced in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages. Recently, the problem of how all of this relates to a marriage between a transgender man and a woman was addressed in Arizona.

            You may remember the Arizona “pregnant man,” Thomas Beatie. According to ABC News, Beatie was born a woman, but underwent the sex change process to become a man, including undergoing a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgeries, testosterone hormone therapy, and psychological treatment. After this, Beatie amended his Hawaii driver’s license and birth certificate to reflect the fact that he was a male. He then married his wife in Hawaii, which did not recognize same sex marriage but did recognize Beatie as a man marrying a woman.

Beatie’s wife was unable to have children, but luckily for the couple he had retained his female reproductive organs. So, Beatie became pregnant three times using donated sperm, and the couple had three children. Later, the couple moved to Arizona and eventually decided to get divorced.

            Last year, the Arizona family court judge refused to grant the Beaties a divorce because, according to azcentral, the judge found that the marriage was between two women, since Thomas Beatie had given birth. Because same sex marriage is not recognized in Arizona, the judge refused to grant the divorce.

            The Arizona Court of Appeals disagreed. Because Beatie’s driver’s license and birth certificate reflected that his gender was male, and because Beatie had not withheld his transgender status from Hawaiian officials, the marriage was a valid opposite sex marriage in Hawaii, and thus could be dissolved as an opposite sex marriage in a divorce proceeding in Arizona.

            This ruling confirms not only that a transgender man is in fact a man under Arizona law, but also that a marriage between a transgender man and a woman is valid, and thus can be dissolved in divorce. As the Beatie case was an Arizona state case, it only has binding effect in Arizona. However, it may act as persuasive authority in other jurisdictions.

            If you have questions or concerns about your family law issues, or if you are interested in obtaining a New Jersey divorce, please contact the experienced New Jersey divorce laywers at Snyder & Sarno at (973) 274-5200.

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