Since the relatively recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples have wed. Unfortunately, not all marriages last, and some same-sex couples living in California will decide to sever their relationships. It is important for people contemplating ending same-sex marriages to understand their rights and obligations before filing for divorce. If you have questions about your options for legally dissolving your relationship, it is critical to speak to a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Do I Have to File Separate Actions to End my Marriage and Domestic Partnership?
No. Under California law, same-sex couples may not only legally marry but may also legally register as domestic partners, and many same-sex couples entered into domestic partnership relationships prior to marrying. As such, if they decide to sever their relationship legally, they must end both their partnership and their marriage. Fortunately, the law allows same-sex couples to do so through the same case and petition. They simply must indicate that they are ending both their marriage and their domestic partnership.
Do I Have to Explain Why I Want a Divorce?
California is a “no-fault” state. In other words, a person who wants to obtain a divorce does not have to prove that his or her spouse bears responsibility for the downfall of the marriage. Instead, the petitioner, who is the party that files the initial divorce complaint, can merely assert that there are irreconcilable differences. This means that the couple cannot get along with each other enough to salvage the relationship, and therefore, the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Is My Spouse Entitled to Half of My Property?
California is a community property state, which means that any property a couple acquires during a registered domestic partnership or marriage is the property of both spouses, subject to certain exceptions. Any debt a couple incurs during a partnership or marriage is considered community debt as well. Thus, if a same-sex couple divorces, each party is legally entitled to half of any community property and will likely be assigned half of the community debt. Notably, only property or debt obtained during a legally established relationship, like a marriage or a domestic partnership, is deemed community property or debt. In other words, if a couple lived together for an extended period before marrying or registering as domestic partners, they do not have community property rights absent an agreement.
Speak to a Seasoned California Family Law Attorney
It is vital for people seeking a same-sex divorce to obtain competent legal counsel to avoid inadvertently waiving their rights. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is prudent to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned San Diego divorce attorneys of Doppelt and Forney can answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process of dissolving our marriage. We have an office in San Diego, and we regularly represent people in family law matters in cities throughout San Diego County. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-769-4748 to schedule a confidential and free meeting.