ILNews

Gender change does not void Indiana marriage

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana law does not automatically void a marriage if one of the parties later is legally recognized as the same gender as the spouse, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The issue arose in In Re the Marriage of Melanie Davis and Angela Summers, 53A01-1305-DR-221. Melanie Davis filed a petition to dissolve her marriage with Angela Summers in 2012. The two were married in 1999 when Davis was living as David Paul Summers, and they have one child. In 2005, Davis petitioned the Marion Circuit Court to change her name and birth certificate to recognize that she is female. Davis has “gender dysphoria,” which is a disorder of people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with.

Davis’ birth certificate was changed in October 2008.  

The trial court originally approved of the provisional order for dissolution, but then sua sponte issued an order that the marriage became void when Davis’ birth certificate was changed to female based on I.C. 31-11-1-1. That statute prohibits same-sex marriage. The trial court dismissed the petition for dissolution.

“Simply said, there is nothing in the Indiana Code chapter dealing with void marriages that declares that a marriage that was valid when it was entered into becomes void when one of the parties to that marriage has since changed his or her gender,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

“To conclude that the parties’ marriage somehow became void when the gender was changed on Davis’s birth certificate would permit Davis to effectively abandon her own child, even though the parties were validly married at the time of the child’s birth and even though Davis is the child’s father. It would also leave the parties’ child without the protection afforded by Indiana’s dissolution statutes with regard to parenting time and child support. We do not think that our General Assembly intended such a result.”

Mathias pointed out in a footnote that the trial court ruling could terminate her parental rights, something Davis does not want.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • epistemology
    just because there are foothills does not mean there are not mountains. concepts are based on generalizations and just because they have some exceptions does not make them per se invalid. the same fallacy applied to the silly notion I sometimes hear that "there is no such thing as race" will soon be applied to sex/gender, ie, its all "socially constructed." in this way, paradoxically, exceptions are used to undermine valid generalizations (like the "male/female" duality) and then the useful social arrangements based on such generalization gets shattered. Somebody wants things to happen that way, you don't reverse a nearly universal human concept that's been around as long as civilization itself by accident or some new fangled "insight." The ancients knew about hermaphrodites as much as we do and they didn't see fit to toss male/female overboard so why should we. The name itself comes from a pagan greek godling, the progeny of hermes and Aphrodite.
  • Oops
    Oops, I meant "repent" not recent. Instead of arguing biology, James, throw yourself into post modern sociology with the Colorado College that now recognizes five genders for Title VII purposes.
  • Room 101 is indicated
    James, What you have written below is dangerously close to stating that 2+2=4 or that you do not love Big Brother. A trip to Room 101 may be in order, but first we shall find you flirting with mental illness and force you to watch this for 48 hours with your eyelids glued wide open: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/fausto-sterling.html Such rational, scientific and traditional thought is a threat to the Soros World Order that some in judiciary are dedicated to building in our midst. Recent or be found lacking character and fitness to be an officer of the court.
    • NOT ANSWERED OR ADDRESSED BY COURTS: IF DAVIS STILL HAS X & Y CHROMOSOMES, IS DAVIS IN REALITY STILL A MALE OR SOMEHOW NOW A FEMALE BECAUSE OF APPEARANCE?
      Trial Court and Court of Appeals did not address what may be the fundamental issue of this case (and may make the whole business moot)-- does one undergoing cosmetic surgery and hormone therapy but still retaining an X and Y chromosome (or an X and Y Y chromosomes) which does not change and which Davis to have and still does have since he/she fathered children, become a female? Likely this was not raised in the Courts and they may not wish to go there because of the troubled waters involved. These are genital ambiguity or so-called inter-sex condition at birth but with X and Y chromosomes. These babies are usually raised as girls and may have surgery and hormones. Courts may find it easier to avoid this whole area.

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT
      Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
      1. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

      2. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

      3. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

      4. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

      5. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

      ADVERTISEMENT