Australian lawyer selflessly offers to help anti-same-sex marriage couple get divorced
A family lawyer has selflessly offered his services – free of charge – to a straight couple who said they would divorce if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia.
Nick and Sarah Jensen told Canberra’s CityNews that they would still “live together and call each other ‘husband and wife’ – in the ‘eyes of God'” if their country equalised marriage.
But according to Australian law, the couple must live separately for 12 months, and prove their marriage is “irreconcilably broken” before seeking a divorce.
And, following this week’s announcement that their country had indeed voted – overwhelmingly – to make same-sex marriage legal, they find themselves in quite the pickle.
Leaping into action is Michael Tiyce, a fervent Yes supporter who will need to draw on all of his 25 years of experience if he is to successfully split up the couple.
He told news.com.au that he was offering his help “because, quite simply, they are going to need it”.
Not only was the Jensens’ district, Australian Capital Territory, 10 percentage points more enthusiastic than any other in its support for equal marriage – but also, getting divorced is difficult.
But Tiyce said that he was ready to assist the stricken pair with whatever they needed.
He noted that “Jesus hated divorce, remember,” then made his intentions clear.
“I see it as a call for help, hence my offer,” he said.
“My firm does quite a bit of pro bono work in family law each year in the gay, lesbian and trans community.
“I thought offering assistance to Nick and Sarah would be an excellent way of reaching out across communities with my family law expertise, because, quite simply, they are going to need it.”
Tiyce explained that the couple would need to prove that their relationship had “broken down irretrievably,” as well as living apart for a year before even filing for divorce.
He said their intention to stay together and have more children “makes things a bit tricky”.
“Continuing to present as husband and wife to the world would, in my opinion, make it impossible for them to establish that their relationship was at an end,” he added.
“This is a situation known as ‘wedlock’ which is mostly experienced currently by gay couples who married overseas but cannot always divorce upon separation in Australia because their marriage post-2004 is not recognised here,” he said, with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
“I understand that may be even more uncomfortable for Nick and Sarah, hence my offer to help them out of the institution they support keeping closed to gays,” he continued.
“The application may be doomed to failure but it is worth giving it a burl (a go).”
The couple’s original announcement sparked a reaction which included just a little schadenfreude.
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A Facebook event called “Celebrating Nick and Sarah Jensen’s divorce” was created soon after the couple’s announcement, gaining over 140,000 RSVPs in the first week.
Despite this, Nick wrote a piece for the Bible Society in which he said he regretted nothing.
“In all honesty if I had the opportunity I don’t think I would do anything differently or change any part of my opinion piece,” he wrote.
“Some have painted our act as simply a petty tantrum, a toddler’s reaction who doesn’t want to share and will simply take his toys home if he can’t win,” he added.
“This decision is not due to any dislike of any people, same sex attracted or not, but simply around how we understand marriage as defined by God.”