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Missouri Supreme Court says lower courts can consider same-sex divorce cases

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An October decision by a Jackson County Circuit Court judge said Missouri must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and Attorney General Chris Koster did not appeal.

A month later, a state judge in a St. Louis and a federal judge in Kansas City both overturned the state’s ban, but appeals are pending before the state Supreme Court and the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

October’s rulings on out-of-state gay marriages likely means M.S. and D.S. will be granted a divorce, says Tony Rothert, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The U.S. Supreme Court is also expected to take up gay marriages in the coming months, which Cooley said he is optimistic about.

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If the issue isn’t resolved, though, married couples could be “trapped” in a marriage, Rothert said, which would bind them financially and leave them with “no way of ending the relationship.”

Other states with bans on marriage between same-sex couples currently are grappling with how to handle divorces, too.

An Alabama judge in March 2014 dismissed a lesbian couple’s request to divorce after marrying in Iowa, and the Nebraska Supreme Court dismissed a similar case in June 2014 on procedural grounds. Another case on whether to allow divorces for same-sex marriage is pending before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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