Same-sex couples are allowed to marry and divorce in California. Unfortunately, despite the legality of it, same-sex divorce can be very complicated, even more so than other divorces. Here are some of the big challenges you should consider if you are heading into a same-sex divorce.
Divorce in California
Usually a couple must live in California for at least six months before they can file for divorce here. There is an exception for same-sex couples though. If a same-sex couple married in California but now lives in a state where same-sex divorce is illegal, they may file for divorce in California without living here for six months. However, there may be issues that cannot be resolved in California court, such as spousal support, child custody, or property and debt issues.
Challenges for same-sex couples
Because legalizing same-sex marriage is a relatively new occurrence, a lot of couples were together for years and years before actually marrying. During that time, many people purchased homes together, opened joint back accounts, and other such financial choices that married couples make. The challenge is that assets acquired before a legal marriage are considered individual assets in the eyes of the law. When unmarried couples make significant purchases or investments jointly, it can be challenging to sort out who has rights to ownership and how those assets should be divided.
Same-sex divorce can also be much more expensive than opposite-sex divorce. Issues such as dividing complicated property, appealing rejections, modifying wills and traveling to a state that allows same-sex divorce can add up quickly. There may also be gift taxes imposed on property depending on ownership and how it is divided.
Luckily, California treats same-sex parenthood as similarly to heterosexual parenthood as possible. Like any custody orders, the best interest of the child is the determining factor for the final decision. Even if one spouse was not legally considered a parent of the child, they may still have rights to custody or visitation time if they cared for the child as a parent would and it is in the best interests of the child to continue spending time with both parents.
Getting the proper legal help
Any divorce can be a stressful and frustrating process. Having the right legal representation and advice is even more important when matters get complicated like the examples above. A skilled attorney with experience in same-sex divorces can help you navigate these issues and sort out the complications that might arise.