Category Archives: Same Sex Marriage and Divorce

3 Important Facts About Same-Sex Marriage

3 Important Facts About Same-Sex Marriage

Chris and Taylor lived together for ten years before they registered as a domestic partnership in California. Three years later, they married in a formal wedding ceremony surrounded by friends and family in Massachusetts. When their relationship fell apart two years later, they learned that they didn’t know as much about the legal aspects of same-sex marriage as they had thought.

You can be married and registered domestic partners.

Chris and Taylor registered as domestic partners before same-sex marriage became legal. Their status gave them some important benefits and rights.

In 2015, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. States were now required to recognize same-sex marriages validly made in another state. This opened the door for many same-sex couples – including Chris and Taylor – to join the ranks of opposite-sex married couples. Being legally married can be especially helpful because not all states recognize registered domestic partnerships.

Years spent living together before marriage may not count.

In California, marriages over ten years are often given special treatment. For example, awards of spousal support may be more liberal.

In some states, a couple who live together for a certain number of years is considered a married couple. California does not recognize most common-law marriages. If a couple lives together long enough to be considered a common-law couple in another state, California may recognize their time together if the couple divorce in California.

For example, the ten years Chris and Taylor lived together before registering their domestic partnership may be ignored when they divorce. In the eyes of the law, the couple’s marriage only lasted for two years.

This type of situation is incredibly complicated. Discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.

You may divorce in California if married in California

A couple that legally entered into a same-sex marriage in California can now file for divorce no matter where they live at the time of the divorce. Here’s where Obergefell v. Hodges affects same-sex marriage and same-sex divorce. Since states are now required to recognize lawful same-sex marriages made in another state, they must also allow same-sex partners to divorce.

Same-Sex Marriage Issues Are Complicated

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings, including same-sex divorces and dissolution of domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.

Terminating a California Registered Domestic Partnership

Terminating a California Registered Domestic Partnership

The day Cody and Charles registered their domestic partnership was one of the happiest days of their lives. However, their relationship cooled over the years. Finally, they started doing online research about terminating a California registered domestic partnership. The more they learned, the more Cody and Charles felt this was the right path for them. They just had to follow the right procedures under California law.

Registered Domestic Partnerships Under California Law

In 2003, the California legislature passed a law that gave a registered domestic partnership the same legal rights and responsibilities as a married couple. Such rights include the right to terminate the legal relationship.

Forming the Registered Domestic Partnership

Adults in a committed relationship may file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. They must be:
  • Unmarried and not part of another registered domestic partnership;
  • Unrelated by blood;
  • At least 18 years of age, in most circumstances;
  • Either both members of the same sex or an opposite-sex couple where one or both are over 62 years of age; and
  • Both consenting to the domestic partnership.
At times, one or both members of a partnership may look for a way out.

Ending the Registered Domestic Partnership

There are two basic ways to go about terminating a California registered domestic partnership – an easy way and a slightly more difficult way. The easiest way to dissolve a registered domestic partnership is to file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State’s Office. The parties must meet the following conditions:
  • Both have signed the Notice of Termination.
  • They cannot have had children during the partnership, and neither party can be pregnant.
  • Their partnership must have existed for less than five years.
  • They cannot own any real property,
  • Their unpaid debts fall below the limit set by state law.
  • The parties have agreed on a division of assets and debt.
  • They have waived financial support.
Sometimes couples are not eligible to dissolve their partnership through a Notice of Termination. If so, one person will file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with an appropriate court. The ensuing process is similar to a divorce proceeding. The court may grant a termination of the registered domestic partnership after the couple has worked out issues related to their relationship, including property division and spousal support.

Final Thoughts

If you want to terminate your registered domestic partnership, discuss your options with an experienced California divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Getting Spousal Support in a Registered Domestic Partnership

Getting Spousal Support in a Registered Domestic Partnership

Ending a long-term or very close relationship is never easy. Spousal support is one sometimes hotly contested issue in a divorce. If spousal support is appropriate, then how much should be paid? This holds true for registered domestic partnerships, too. Partners embroiled in a breakup may also be facing spousal support questions.

How is a domestic partnership registered in California?

Couples who want to have an opposite-sex marriage must get a marriage license from the County Clerk’s office. Same-sex couples, and certain opposite-sex couples, do not buy a license to memorialize their relationship. Instead, they file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State’s office. California Family Code Section 297 outlines the requirements for couples who form a domestic partnership.

To terminate or dissolve a registered domestic partnership, the partners may file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership, also with the Secretary of State. Requirements for termination are laid out in California Family Code Section 299.

Can you get spousal support in a registered domestic partnership?

Filing the Notice under Section 299 means that both parties waive their rights to spousal support. To claim support, partnership typically must file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the California Superior Court.

Parties who file a Notice of Termination do not go through court hearings or mediation. When filing a Petition for Dissolution, however, the parties may attend hearings and ask a judge for temporary orders. Support is one issue that will be addressed by the court.

What does a partner need to do to get spousal support?

As noted above, the first step is to file the Petition for Dissolution. After that, the dissolution proceeds similar to a divorce. The partners will negotiate an agreement on community property and debt, arrive at child custody and support arrangements if necessary, and come to an agreement about support. If the partners are unable to do this through negotiation or mediation, their case may be heard by a judge, who will then issue an order about these issues.

Make sure you get the support you deserve.

Please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with dissolution of marriages and domestic partnerships from our offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.

Are Domestic Partnerships Registered in California?

Are Domestic Partnerships Registered in California?

Sam and Chris have a committed relationship that does not include a formal same-sex marriage. Jon and Julia have lived together for several years. Both aged 65, they don’t want to get married, but they do want some of the tax and financial benefits a marriage offers. Each couple may consider forming a domestic partnership but wonder whether California has a registration process for this type of bond.

What is a domestic partnership?

According to California Family Code Section 297:

Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.

A domestic partnership is a legally-recognized relationship between two individuals. California Family Code states that a domestic partnership is formed when both people file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. At the time of filing, the couple have to meet certain criteria.

Who can form a domestic partnership?

The domestic partners must:

  • Not be married or partners with another person.
  • Be at least 18 years of age, unless parents or guardians agree to the partnership.
  • Either members of the same sex or same sex if at least one of the partners is over 62 years old.

Does California require domestic partnerships to register?

No. The law says that partners may register their domestic partnership with the state.

However, registering gives the domestic partners the same benefits, rights, and protections that other California married couples enjoy.

What’s the process for registering a California domestic partnership?

The California Secretary of State’s Office accepts and processes Declarations of Domestic Partnership and related documents.

Couples that meet the legal requirements may register by filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1). California also allows to keep their relationship private by completing a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1A).

Have more questions about domestic partnership registration in California?

Talk to a California family law attorney to learn more about your options.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Termination of a Domestic Partership in California

California’s legal options for divorce extend to domestic partnerships registered in California as well as in other states. Termination of a domestic partnership in California is similar to the termination of a marriage with a few differences.

In order to terminate a marriage, California generally requires that a couple have resided in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce and at least three months in the county in which the divorce is filed. In the case of a domestic partnership that was not registered in California, these same residency requirements apply.

If the domestic partnership was registered in California, there are no residency requirements for dissolution of the partnership. This includes domestic partnerships that were registered in California where the parties no longer live in California or have never lived in California. By registering the domestic partnership in California, the parties have consented to California jurisdiction and no further residency is required. Note, however, that if neither party lives in California, the judge may have issues with ruling on matters such as partner support, debt and property, and child support. This is just one of the reasons why it is important to discuss your case with a lawyer with extensive experience with domestic partnership laws.

If the domestic partnership has been registered for less than 5 years, it may qualify for a “summary dissolution.” In order to qualify for a “summary dissolution” the following requirements apply:

• Both parties are in agreement to terminate the domestic partnership.
• The domestic partnership has been registered for less than 5 years.
• No children were born or adopted during the domestic partnership and no party is currently pregnant.
• Neither party own any part of land or buildings.
• Neither party rents any land or buildings (other than a current residence so long as it is less than a 1-year lease and there is no option to buy).
• The partners have not acquired more than $6,000 in debts since the date of registration of the domestic partnership (not including car loans).
• The total amount of property acquired during the domestic partnership is less than $41,000 (not including cars).
• Neither party has separate property worth more than $41,000 (not including cars).
• No partner is requesting support from the other.
• Both parties have signed an agreement dividing all of their debts and property or they attest that they have no debts or property together.

It is important to discuss the pros and cons of filing for dissolution of a domestic partnership with an experienced family law attorney. As termination of domestic partnerships in California presents unique issues, it is vital to seek the counsel of lawyers with extensive knowledge of California domestic partnership laws. Call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger to find out how they can help you with your domestic partnership questions or other family law issues: (415) 293-8314.
United States Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Legal in All 50 States

United States Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States

Until June 26, 2015, state laws governing same-sex marriage were as diverse as the states themselves. On one end of the spectrum were states that would recognize a right for same-sex couples to marry; on the other end were states that would neither issue a marriage license nor recognize valid same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states. The ability of states to treat same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples forever changed when the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The plaintiffs who filed lawsuits in the Obergefell case consisted of 14 same-sex couples and two homosexual men whose life partners had passed away. The plaintiffs were from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Initially, the cases were brought in separate actions in federal trial courts, called the district courts. All of the district courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the cases were consolidated at the next stage of the judicial process, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgments, ruling against the rights of same-sex couples.

The two issues in the case related to the ability of the states to (1) refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and (2) refuse to recognize as legal same-sex marriages that had been performed in other states.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, holding that the state laws that “exclude[d] same-sex couples from civil marriage” were unlawful and that states could not ” refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State.”

This decision will affect many aspects of same-sex marriage nationwide, as marriage is a cornerstone of American society. Indeed, the Court specifically delineated many benefits of marital status, such as the following:

  • tax benefits;
  • inheritance rights;
  • medical decisionmaking rights;
  • vital statistics records, such as birth and death certificates;
  • survivor rights for the purposes of insurance and workers’ compensation; and
  • child custody and support.

California was the second state to recognize same-sex marriage, in 2008. However, it has had a rocky history due the passage of a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment was challenged but ultimately invalidated.

The termination of a legal union can be financially and emotionally devastating. In such a circumstance, it is important to work with an experienced, compassionate lawyer who can help you navigate a very difficult time. Judy L. Burger has an extensive, successful background in family law matters in Northern California. Call her today: (415) 293-8314.


A Problem Same-Sex Couples May Not Have Considered

GayMarriageMany couples rushed at the chance to get married when Massachusetts passed a law allowing same-sex marriages back in 2004. From all over the country, couples flew to Massachusetts, staying only long enough to get married before returning to their home states. Unfortunately, just like many heterosexual marriages, things don’t always work out and many same-sex partners have decided to go their separate ways. This is where some same-sex couples are running into a problem. If the state where a same-sex couple resides still does not recognize same-sex marriages, then the couple cannot get divorced. The obvious rationale is you can’t get divorced if you are not legally married. In order to get legally divorced, a same-sex couple must seek a divorce in a state where the union is recognized. Most if not all states require residency for a minimum period of time before you can seek a divorce. So, if a couple weds in Massachusetts but lives in Mississippi and they later decide to call it quits, they are typically stuck in the legal union, at least until they devise a solution to the lack of jurisdiction problem so they can get divorced in a same-sex marriage state. Thankfully, California provides an option for same-sex couples who got married in California but now live in another state. Same-sex married couples who got married in California but now live in another state that does not recognize same-sex marriages can file for divorced in California, despite California’s standard residency requirements for divorce. If you need assistance getting divorced from your same-sex spouse, contact us to learn more about the filing requirements and limits on the court’s jurisdiction. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we aggressively pursue the best outcome for you in your divorce or custody proceedings. Judy L. Burger is known for her effective representation of clients in complex family law cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a parent facing a divorce or custody dispute, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.