Leon F. Bennett, Esq.
Los Angeles and Ventura County Same-Sex Divorce Attorney
As the reality of same sex marriage becomes the norm across the United States, some couples will, unfortunately, also need divorce services. Under the law, same-sex couples have the same divorce rights as any couple, but there are some differences to a same-sex divorce than there might be for a heterosexual divorce which we can help explain and outline. It goes without saying that the Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett have always been and will always be an equal-opportunity Family Law firm which upholds the legal rights of all individuals regardless of race, religion or gender identification. We support the rights of all members of the LGBTQ community to get married and, sadly, realize like any marriage they don’t always last a lifetime.
Defining Legal Differences of Same-Sex Divorce
Considering that same-sex marriage has only been legal in California since 2008, the laws regarding LGBTQ divorce continue to evolve. Basically, same-sex couples are entitled to all of the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples seeking a divorce in this state. Similar principles generally apply to the proceedings with some minor differences when it comes to:
Domestic Partnership Agreement
Prior to the legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in California, most same-sex couples who wanted to officially share their lives had to settle for Domestic Partnership agreements. For those that did, same sex divorces may also require the parties to dissolve their domestic partnership agreement with which we can help.
Child Custody Rights
Child custody rights are also one roadblock same-sex couples may face that differ from heterosexual couples. While same-sex couple divorce may not be plagued by gender role biases that heterosexual couples often face, unless a same-sex couple can make an amicable compromise regarding custody and visitation rights, the courts must take biological information, perceived caregiver roles and other gray-area information into consideration. This may or may not work out for some couples. Until legal precedents can help the courts create standardized judgment rules, some custody battles may make same-sex couple divorces more difficult.
Property and Asset Division
Dividing assets and property can also have different nuances in a same-sex marriage if, for example, a couple has been together for over 20 years but has only been married for a short time. To fairly divide assets in these cases, the courts may need to eschew traditional asset division precedents in favor of sourcing each asset to the property owner.
Non-California residents who married in California
Since California was one of the first states to legally recognize same-sex marriages, many LGBTQ couples traveled here to formally tie the knot. Today, if those couples decide to get divorced, their home states may still not yet have a legal framework in place to assist same-sex divorces. California will help you get divorced even if you and/or your spouse are not residents of the state. However, the state in which you currently reside must refuse to cooperate.
In this scenario, California can legally dissolve your marriage, but it may not have jurisdiction to help you with other divorce issues like property division and child custody. We can help find the answers to your specific scenario and clarify your options on every issue you face.
If you are considering a same-sex divorce, it is important to speak with an attorney who understands this complex, ever-changing area of the law. We will help you understand all of your legal rights and options. Similar to heterosexual divorce, we emphasize and encourage the principle of Collaborative-Mediation as opposed to prolonged and expensive litigation. Same-sex divorce is relatively new, so make sure to contact a family lawyer is well-versed in applicable laws and procedures.