Couples rarely endure easy divorces. That remains true for same-sex couples in California, despite the state’s history of passing legislature friendly to same-sex marriages. If you plan to file for a dissolution of your same-sex marriage, you must keep certain state laws in mind.
Marriage vs. domestic partnerships
Same-sex marriage did not become legal until 2013. However, same-sex couples gained the right to domestic partnerships in the state in 1999. One of the primary considerations for same-sex couples & divorce involves determining the legality of your marriage. Other states also offered domestic partnerships.
If you legally registered your domestic partnership with the state of California, your divorce process will undergo many of the same steps as a same-sex marriage would. However, out-of-state domestic partnerships and partnerships you failed to register with the state require different legal separations of property and assets.
During a divorce, same-sex couples with children will need to figure out visitation and child support arrangements. However, the courts in California do not automatically consider both parents to be “legal” parents. This may affect both custody and child support.
Courts use these guidelines to determine whether you fit the definition of a legal parent:
- Both parents adopted the child.
- You adopted the children because you were the nonbiological parent.
- You signed a Declaration of Parentage form with the California Department of Child Support Services.
- The birth certificate includes both parents’ names.
Courts may take other situations into account when making decisions about custody and child support. If you remained a constant part of the child’s life, the state of California may recognize your legal rights as a parent.
Differences and similarities
While same-sex couples face challenges in the divorce process, many of the guidelines for dividing assets and debt remain the same as they would for other couples. No matter who you choose for your partner, a divorce involves a complex legal process.