Same-sex marriages are legal in California, and all of the provisions in the Family Code that apply to opposite-sex couples today apply equally to same-sex couples upon marriage and divorce.
A Brief History
Before California recognized same-sex marriages in May 2008, same-sex couples in California could register as Domestic Partners. Domestic Partnership status was originally intended for opposite-sex couples over the age of 62, but was subsequently expanded in 2005 to include same-sex couples. In November 2008, state voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to prohibit same sex marriages. Proposition 8 was then upheld in May 2009 by the California Supreme Court, although it did leave in place those same-sex marriages which had occurred prior to the passage of the proposition.
Proposition 8 was thereafter challenged in federal court and was found in August 2010 to be unconstitutional. Three years later, in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court let that ruling stand, effectively ending California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Also in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme found that the federal ban on same-sex marriage under DOMA (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”) was unconstitutional, and the effects of that decision are still rippling across the country.
Applicability Of California Law
California’s community property rules apply to both same-sex marriages as well as domestic partnerships, including all income and assets acquired after marriage or registration, financial accounts, real property, retirement benefits, etc. Terminating same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships occurs through the same judicial process used for dissolution of opposite-sex marriages, and the court can make orders regarding custody and visitation of minor children, child support and spousal support. The laws in California regarding the parentage and adoption of children for same-sex parents have come a long way in a relatively short period of time, and continue to evolve over time. And in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA, the federal government has begun in many ways to treat same-sex married couples as it does opposite-sex married couples, although this particular issue is not yet fully resolved at this time.
Different Orientation, Similar Issues, Same Dedicated Focus
Unfortunately, as is the case with married opposite-sex couples, not all registered domestic partners and same-sex married couples stay together, resulting in the need for a dissolution of the domestic partnership or of the same-sex marriage through court filings and proceedings. We provide the same level of competent and compassionate legal representation for domestic partners and same-sex spouses as we do the rest of our clients, and will be ready to advocate for you when and if the need arises.
Contact us or call (925) 465-2500 or (707) 398-6008 for more information or to schedule an initial consultation at Sparks Family Law, Inc. with attorney Gary D. Sparks.