Unique Considerations for Same Sex Marriages

At the Law Office of Michael L. Maguire & Associates we offer a full range of family law solutions for same sex and LGBTQ+ couples year round.  In honor of June being pride month, we wanted to share some basic information on issues that can affect some same-sex divorces.  

Same Sex Marriage & Divorce – a Brief History

In 1996 a Republican led Senate and Congress passed the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which federally defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  The intent of this law was to block same sex couples from being recognized as married for tax and other legal purposes.  Bill Clinton called the law “divisive and unnecessary” but also signed it into law.  The law was invalidated by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional in 2013.

Same Sex Divorce in California

There are no laws that are unique to same sex divorce in California.  The process is completely the same as the divorce of any marriage.  There are two issues that are unique to same-sex marriage that may need to be considered.  We will discuss both of them below: 

Legal guardianship, biological parents & parenting rights

As with any divorce, the time and support related to any minor children is a complex and potentially contentious issue.  In some same-sex marriages there is a biological relationship between the child and one of the parents.  Ideally legal guardianship status was already arranged with the non-biological parent. 

The date that is recognized as the beginning of the marriage

If you were married in California after June 26th 2013 or married in any state after June 26th, 2015 then the date of your marriage is clear.  However, if you were married before these dates, while DOMA was still in effect, the beginning of your marriage may need to be agreed upon.  Another issue that can cloud the legal beginning of a marriage is cohabitating while not legally married.

Why does the start date of a marriage matter?  

There are two reasons why the beginning of a marriage matters.  First, that date may be used to determine the length of the marriage, which can have an effect on spousal support.  This date can also have an effect on determining what is separate and what is community property. 

The Law Office of Michael L. Maguire & Associates works with same-sex couples to resolve family law issues in a cost-effective and timely manner.  We wish you and all off your loved ones a safe and wonderful pride month.  

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