Since becoming equally available to all couples; thousands of same-sex couples in California have wed, enjoying the same legal protections, privileges, and benefits afforded to opposite-sex married couples. Unfortunately, with as many as 50 percent of all marriages in America ending in divorce, it should come as no surprise that gay and lesbian couples face many of the same marital woes as other couples. Ending a marriage is never easy, but sometimes it is necessary.
California same-sex divorce laws
When the U.S. Supreme Court made its historic ruling in June 2015, it immediately mandated that all states—California included—must issue marriages to same-sex couples and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples issued in other states. Legally, no differentiation exists between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages in California or elsewhere in the country.
Likewise, the process for divorce is the same for LGBT couples, as are the following rules and requirements:
- Residency. According to California law, at least one spouse must have established residency and lived in the state for at least six months (180 days) in order for a couple to obtain a divorce here.
- Common-law marriages. California does not recognize common-law same-sex (or opposite-sex) marriages. However, the state will grant a divorce to couples whose common-law marriages were recognized in a previous state of residence.
- Community property. California is a community property state when it comes to divorce. This means that both divorcing spouses share equal claim to all property and responsibility for all debts acquired during the marriage.
Generally, many of California’s divorce laws and procedures exist to simplify the process as much as possible for couples splitting up and avoid unnecessary complications and conflict. In the same spirit, one approach to divorce many gay couples opt to take is with mediation.
Mediation for LGBT couples
Mediation is a process by which divorcing spouses settle all issues related to ending their marriage—property and asset division, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, etc.—out of court, with help from a neutral mediator.
A modern and practical approach to divorce, mediation offers LGBT couples many advantages such as time and cost-effectiveness, with few drawbacks. In fact, if mediation efforts prove fruitless and spouses find themselves at an impasse, they can always proceed to court later.
Why should same-sex couples in California choose mediation?
The traditional divorce process is notorious for the financial and emotional toll it takes on so many couples. Mediation aims to lessen many of the stresses and frustrations partners encounter during common litigation, and offers countless benefits, including the following:
- Generally saves time
- Avoids costly court fees
- Allows you and your spouse more control over the end result rather than leaving it up to the courts
- Allows for the details to remain confidential
- Scheduled based on both spouses’ availability rather than the court’s
- Provides an unbiased, neutral party (mediator) to guide your efforts
- Focuses on maintaining civility and practically, especially where children are involved
- Aims to achieve mutually beneficial results rather than one partner “winning” and the other “losing”
Consider mediation if you are dissolving a same-sex marriage in Fresno or San Diego
To learn more about mediation and other options for LGBT divorce in California, contact the Law Office of Rebecca Medina online or call (559) 785-3295 to schedule a consultation.