California is now one of several states that has adopted Same Sex Marriage. This development comes after a period of several years where California Law also permitted a legal relationship between two people known as a Domestic Partnership. Many more States are continuing to amend their laws and extend Marriage rights to same sex couples.
Unfortunately, this will in some cases result in a same sex divorce. Just as same sex couples have fought for marriage equality, they may have to deal with the same reality of divorce that other married couples have been dealing with for years.
Under California Law, all married couples have equal community property rights, no matter what their gender. Any property obtained by the either of the spouses during the marriage will be presumed to be Community Property. The Court will have to divide the property equally upon the dissolution of the marriage.
Parties will have a duty to support each other and may be required to pay Spousal Support to the other spouse if the Court finds a need for support. It is important to remember that a Court will almost certainly consider the length of a registered domestic partnership, if any, in addition to the length of the time from the date the spouses were married. Under California Law, if the total length of the marriage is over ten years, than the Court will have to keep the issue of Spousal Support open indefinitely.
A parent could also be required to pay Child Support for any children that were adopted by that spouse during the marriage. Child Support is mandatory in California and it is based on the respective income of the parties and the percentage of time that the child is in each parent's home after the separation.
Pensions and other deferred compensation plans must also be divided by the Court. The general rule is that any pension credits or retirement savings accumulated during the marriage must also be equally divided. For some same sex couples, this is an area that is still vague. Some employers and pension plans may not recognize a pension right that was accumulated during the period of a registered domestic partnership. You should check with your pension or an experienced Family Law Attorney.
California now grants Same Sex Couples the right to marry. Unfortunately, some of these marriages will come to an end. All married couples now have the same rights to a divorce in California.