Laws governing marriage and divorce vary from state to state, including whether the jurisdiction recognizes a same-sex union. Just recently, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear any cases on same-sex marriage from the lower courts, enhancing the momentum of the legalization of gay marriage. In fact, there is speculation that this inaction could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in 30 states throughout the country. But history has shown that not all marriages last, no matter what the orientation of the couple. And while the laws addressing the marriage of same-sex couples seem to be continuously evolving, the same cannot be said for divorce. Divorce is complicated, no matter who you are. In order to effectively protect your rights, it is imperative that you contact an experienced family law attorney with knowledge of the laws and procedures affecting couples in and around the San Diego area.
California is one of the states that recognize same-sex marriage. Just this past year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state Senate bill to officially repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage and reflect federal court decisions. According to news reports, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1306, written by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which redefines marriage in the California Family Code as a contract between two persons regardless of sex. One article explains that the legislation will amend language used in California’s laws by removing “outdated and biased language.” The statutes will replace references to husband and wife with gender-neutral language, such as “spouses” or “married persons.” The Bill will go into effect in January 2015.
But couples are finding out that pursuing a divorce is not as easy. In a highly publicized divorce case, a same-sex couple got married in California in 2008. They later settled in Mississippi, a state that does not recognize such marriages. In an ironic twist, one of the women is seeking recognition of her same-sex marriage (in Mississippi) in order to obtain a divorce from her former domestic partner. In 2013, a Mississippi judge ruled that the state’s Constitution and statutes prevented the court from granting a divorce to the two women. While the women may seek a divorce from the courts in California, one of the parties has argued that she should not have to travel to another state to terminate her marriage.
The bottom line is that couples who visit a state that recognizes same-sex marriages in order to be married may find themselves in somewhat of a dilemma if they ultimately seek a divorce in their home state, one that does not recognize the union. The situation becomes even more complicated if the couple has children. The laws throughout the country are changing rapidly. As we reported in an earlier blog post, the California legislature is busy addressing matters of family law in newly drafted bills.
If you are facing any sort of a family law issue, from divorce to child custody matters, you are encouraged to contact an experienced family lawyer who will be fully aware of the current state of the law affecting San Diego families. The office of Doppelt & Forney has a great deal of experience handling family law matters. Our office serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through our website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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