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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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Tampa judge who rejected it now grants same-sex divorce

— More than a year after they agreed on every aspect of their divorce, Keiba Lynn Shaw and Mariama Changamire Shaw, are finally, legally single women.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laurel M. Lee notified attorneys by email Monday night that she had vacated her May 2014 order dismissing the Shaws’ divorce petition on the grounds Florida law didn’t recognize the lesbian couple’s Massachusetts marriage, and therefore, the courts couldn’t grant a divorce.

Lee was overturned by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in a decision that was amplified last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states have to recognize such unions from other states.

Lee granted the Shaws divorce and a petition for Mariama Changamire to drop her former spouse’s last name.

“Although justice delayed is justice denied, it has finally come to Mariama and we are grateful,” said Changamire’s lawyer, Brett Rahall.

Adam Cordover, attorney for Keiba Shaw, issued a prepared statement from his client, which read, in part:

“An uncontested divorce between a man and a woman in Florida can be resolved in as little as a month. That’s just four weeks to dissolve a negative situation that both parties agree needs to end. It doesn’t matter how long they were married or where they were married...

“And yet, because my former spouse and I are both women, my divorce has taken more than a year to be granted and has unnecessarily disrupted my life and that of my family members. The legal complexities have limited my options and the resulting financial burden has made it harder to take care of my family the way I envisioned...

“Resolution and closure are so important after any relationship comes to an end. I have control over the personal aspects of this process, which are successfully and happily resolved, but the courts have final control over the legal end. Fortunately, the progress made thus far in the courts means that all women, as well as men in same-sex marriages, will now be able to divorce in Florida as they, as responsible adults, see fit — just as a opposite sex couples do nationwide.”

The former couple, who married in February 2010 and have been separated since October 2013, used a process called collaborative divorce in which they agreed on all issues, requesting only that the courts legally dissolve their marriage.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com

813-259-7837

Twitter: @ElaineTBO

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