Beginning in 2005, California began recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to form a binding union. This union is referred to as a Registered Domestic Partnership. This gave them certain rights and responsibilities. The process to terminate a Registered Domestic Partnership (RDP) is different from the process to terminate a marriage. It requires submitting paperwork to the California Secretary of State.
In 2008, California recognized the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This, in turn, requires same-sex parties who are legally married to use the usual court procedures to terminate their marriage.
With the changes in federal law under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), some of the complications revolving around same-sex divorce have eased. However, the process still has its own inherent complications.
Couples who have registered their partnership in California have consented to California maintaining jurisdiction to terminate the partnership regardless of where the partners may now reside. This requirement often referred to as a residency requirement, affects only those partnerships registered in California, but does not apply to same-sex marriages performed in California.
Some couples have registered as domestic partners and since been legally married. Those couples face the added task of not only filing for dissolution of their marriage, but terminating their registered domestic partnership.
Further complicating the same-sex divorce issue will be couples who have since relocated out of California to a state that does not recognize same sex marriages or registered domestic partnerships. Issues of community property, child custody and visitation, and child and spousal support, are also part of the intricate web of dissolving a same-sex union. If you have moved out of California, the courts here may have jurisdiction over the marriage, but may no longer have jurisdiction over issues of custody, support or property rights. It is important that you speak with someone who has knowledge and experience in this area prior to making any decisions on how you will terminate your union.
At Family Law Group, LLP, we are familiar with the complexities of dissolving a same-sex union, whether it be a Registered Domestic Partnership or a same-sex marriage. We understand the potential pitfalls in the process. We are well versed in the processes involved and can guide you through the complexities of either process.