In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergfell v. Hodges ruled that all people, including same-sex, have a fundamental right to marry. As a result, all 50 states now allow marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples under the same rights and obligations marriage bestows on opposite-sex individuals. In California, same-sex couples could legally marry since 2008 (although not between November 5, 2008 through June 27, 2013 when the legal battles occurred) .

With same-sex marriage, came same-sex divorce. The same divorce laws apply to same-sex couples, however, the dynamics and the issues are different. Many divorcing couples have been together for much longer than the duration of their legal marriages. Many have domestic partnerships and cohabitation periods. So, property rights and support obligations go far beyond marital unions and are therefore much harder to establish in some cases. Parental rights are not clear cut either and often become tools in exerting control and power during the process of legal split. People’s emotions are complex as well. Grief, shame, anger, betrayal, depression and devastation are coupled with emotions related to internalized homophobia.

Dissolution of Marriage/Termination of Domestic Partnership

Many divorcing same-sex couples need to terminate their domestic partnerships as well their marriage. The court can dissolve both pursuant to the same petition. If parties, settle in mediation, their stipulated judgment terminates both, marriage and domestic partnership.

If a couple has been together for 5 years or less, jointly want to terminate their domestic partnership, have no children, and have very limited property/debt, as well as, meet other requirements (all requirements for filing a Notice of Termination of DP), they can end their domestic partnership by filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State.

Property Division

All property acquired during same-sex marriage and domestic partnership is considered community property unless excluded by a prenuptial/post-nuptial agreement or traced to separate property funds. In other words, same community property laws apply to same-sex couples. The difficulty arises when property was acquired during a period of cohabitation only. Any such property if to be divided by way of litigation must be divided in a civil court called Marvin-type case.

Marvin-type cases

Still working on this section on this page…bear with us:)