Divorce Precedents

Divorce Precedents - Divorce Precedents Definition - What Are Divorce Precedents - Divorce Precedents Examples

Divorce Precedents Definition

To understand what a divorce precedent is, we have to look at the precedents definition.

The precedents definition is:

  • an earlier event or action that is used as an example or guide to be considered in future, similar situations.

What Are Divorce Precedents

Divorce precedents are rules established in previous divorce cases.

These rules are used to decide the outcomes of future divorce cases with similar legal issues.

It is believed that divorce precedents ensure that people with similar situations are treated equally.

Meaning that judges cannot show favor to some divorce cases and not others.

Sometimes the legal issues in a divorce are not similar to previous cases.

In this case, the previous cases cannot be used as divorce precedents.

Examples of Divorce Precedents

Let’s talk about an example of divorce precedents.

Obergefell v Hodges

This is a case regarding Obergefell and his partner, John.

They lived in Ohio where same-sex marriage was banned at the time.

Obergefell was terminally ill at the time.

They wanted to get married before Obergefell passed away.

They drove to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal, and got married.

When Obergefell passed away, Ohio maintained the ban on same-sex marriage.

They would not recognize John as Obergefell’s surviving spouse on the death certificate.

John sued state officials who were responsible for enforcing the ban on him.

The Supreme Court found that:

  • same-sex couples have the right to marry
  • same-sex marriages must be recognized across states


The defending attorney used a divorce precedent to argue his case.

The divorce precedent was Loving v Virginia in 1967.

This divorce precedent eliminated the ban on interracial marriages.

The defense attorney argued that the divorce precedent had progressed towards greater recognition of rights.

There were four main principles and traditions that the family law attorney cited:

  • the right to choose who to marry is inherent in individual autonomy
  • the right to marry protects the intimate relationship between two people
  • the right to marry protects children and families by giving legal protection to homebuilding and childrearing
  • marriage is the keystone of the social order and the foundation of the family unit

Another divorce precedent that the attorney used was the Equal Protection Clause.

This states that same-sex couples are entitled to the same state benefits that opposite-sex couples have.

Divorce precedents are outcomes from old cases that lawyers use to fight their cases.

They use these divorce precedents to fight against or for what the issues are in court.

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