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same sex marriageFor gay and lesbian couples in Florida, the battle for the legal recognition of their family relationships has often been a slow one, marked by gradual legal advances. This spring, some same-sex couples scored another victory when a federal court judge issued a ruling that appears to have hastened the process of getting both parents’ names on the birth certificates of their children.

Of course, the path to arriving at this point in Florida has been a complicated one, with the cause of same-sex marriage having been advanced by a wide array of different people. While most people associate the cause of same-sex marriage with unmarried Floridians who desired to marry their partners, the issue was actually broader than that. Many of the people who brought challenges in court seeking to overturn Florida’s ban were actually couples desiring a divorce. One such couple was Mariama Changamire Shaw and her wife, Keiba Shaw. The women married in Massachusetts in 2010 and then moved to Tampa. The women sought an uncontested divorce in 2013, but the trial court in Tampa ruled that Florida courts could not dissolve a marriage that, under Florida law, never validly existed in the first place.

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gavelWhile celebrities often seem to live in a world far removed from that of everyday Americans, sometimes events remind us that music, TV, and movie stars, like the rest of us, have “real life” troubles, such as difficult divorces and messy child custody disputes. The case of actress Kelly Rutherford is one such example. Rutherford’s drawn-out, ultimately unsuccessful legal battle for custody of her two children offers some clear reminders regarding what to do (and more specifically, what not to do) in navigating the often emotional and complicated circumstances involved with sharing custody with your ex-spouse. A Monaco court late last year gave the mother, whose ex-husband already had sole custody of the children, another defeat by restricting Rutherford to exercising her visitation rights only in Monaco or France, according to a Daily Mail report. In Rutherford’s case, the mother’s own actions potentially helped lead to the unfavorable outcome for her.

Rutherford, best known for her roles in successful dramas like Melrose Place and Gossip Girl, became pregnant with her first child in 2006. That summer, she married the father, German businessman Daniel Giersch. Two and a half years later, while pregnant with the couple’s second child, Rutherford filed for divorce. In that case, Rutherford asked for sole custody. Giersch made his own court filing, in which he also requested sole custody. In 2010, a California court issued a divorce and custody order.

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