Property division, spousal support, child custody and child support are among the legal issues that can be a point of contention when a marriage ends. Over the last decade, though, another issue has brought more than a little confusion, anxiety, uncertainty and bitter court battles and challenges for many Americans: same-sex divorce.
California is one of some 20 states that recognize same-sex marriage. This means that gay and lesbian couples throughout the state have the right to marry. These couples are entitled to many of the same benefits as heterosexual couples. Although California is among the states that celebrated the demise of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the LGBT community still must work to help resolve various issues related to same-sex divorce.
In states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, filing for divorce is almost impossible because the marriage is not recognized in the first place. Conflicts typically arise when one partner of a same-sex couple who resides in a state that does not recognize gay marriage marries a partner who lives in a state that does recognize it. Getting divorced in these cases is challenging, making both child custody and division of marital property and assets difficult.
For these couples, the only way to obtain a same-sex divorce is by filing divorce papers in the state where they got married. Unfortunately, most of these states require nonresident same-sex couples to meet certain residency requirements.
When the issues surrounding same-sex divorce are as clear as the issues governing same-sex marriage and the rights of gay and lesbian couples, then Californians will be able to fully celebrate their state's recognition of genuine marriage equality. California residents who are uncertain about any family law issue may want to reach out to an experienced attorney.
Source: USA Today, "For some same-sex couples, breaking up is hard to do" Richard Wolf, July 25, 2014