A View from the Bench: Adjudicating Same Sex Divorce andamp; Child Custody

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Same-sex divorce is on the horizon in light of the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage. Since most divorce case law is based on heteronormative presumptions, the authors were curious to understand how local district judges would adjudicate a same-sex divorce case involving a child born prior to the legal marriage. A qualitative study was implemented and a convenient sample of four local district judges in Upper East Tennessee were interviewed for this study. Interview questions were submitted to the judges prior to the interview and themes were identified following data collection. None of the judges had adjudicated a same-sex divorce. All of the judges admitted that they were unfamiliar with case law on same-sex divorce and acknowledged that they would most likely default to heteronormative case law. The judges indicated that they have not had any training on the changing case law as it relates to same-sex divorce and custody issues. Implications and future directions for research are discussed.