District Judge Randall Rehmeier Tuesday denied a divorce to a same-sex Nebraska City couple that was married in 2003 in Vermont. The judge said the Nebraska Constitution provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”
He said since the state does not recognize the marriage, he does not have jurisdiction to dissolve it. He said courts in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas and Rhode Island have come to the same conclusion. The plaintiff, a 37-year-old Nebraska City woman, petitioned the court for dissolution of the marriage against the defendant, a 50-year-old Nebraska City woman.
Interestingly, although Judge Rehmeier refused to recognize the couple’s status as married for the purposes of granting a divorce, he did rule on issues of parenting, custody, and child support which had been presented and agreed to by both parties. The Judge noted that it was expressly in the best interests of the child to exercise jurisdiction over parenting and custody only.
He granted custody of a four-year-old girl to the plaintiff, the girl’s biological mother. The defendant, who holds a job in Hamburg, Iowa, is ordered to pay child support of $200 a month and all day-care and pre-school expenses. The women will share in health care expenses. The parenting plan ordered by the court includes weekend and holiday visitation.
“The defendant has assisted the plaintiff in providing day-to-day care and nurturing of the child,” the judge said in his ruling. “The defendant has established a close bond and relationship with (the child),” he said. … He said the plaintiff agrees that the defendant has established a parenting relationship.