Los Angeles Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer
Getting the legal right to marry was a huge victory for same-sex couples across the country. However, many same-sex couples find that relationships don’t always last. As a result, some same-sex marriages will end in divorce. Given the fact that same-sex marriage has only been legal for a short period of time, the law regarding LGBT divorce is still evolving. If you are considering a same-sex divorce, it is important to speak with an attorney who understands this complex area of the law.
At Berenji & Associates, families have trusted our Los Angeles divorce attorneys with their most intimate disputes for more than 25 years. We are committed to helping you navigate the divorce process and achieve the results you want. Whether you need help dividing marital assets, figuring out child custody arrangements, or requesting spousal support, we are here to help. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Overview of the Same-Sex Divorce Process
Divorce is one way to formally end a legal marriage in California. Same-sex couples are entitled to all of the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples seeking a divorce. The process begins when one spouse (the petitioner) files a request to dissolve the marriage. This request must also be served on the other spouse (the respondent). Once the paperwork is formally filed and served, the lengthy process of divorce officially begins.
Your divorce cannot be finalized until you and your spouse have agreed on all of the terms of your divorce. The terms that you will be required to discuss will depend on your specific relationship. These typically include:
Property Division: California is a community property state. Each spouse is entitled to half of all marital property. Community property can include income, retirement benefits, profits, real estate, and debts.
Spousal Support: Some same-sex spouses may be entitled to receive spousal support payments. Alimony is a tool to help spouses maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during marriage after divorce.
Child Support: Both parents, whether biological or adoptive, share financial obligations to any children they have. Child support is typically paid by the parent who earns more and/or spends less time with the child.
Child Custody: Child custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about and be present in the child’s life. Joint legal and physical custody is the preferred arrangement in Los Angeles.
You and your spouse are encouraged to negotiate the terms of your divorce privately. This allows you to maintain control over any decisions that are made. If you take your battle to court, a judge will have the ability to make unilateral decisions that affect every aspect of your life. If you and your spouse cannot see eye to eye, there are some great tools at your disposal. Mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration can help you negotiate the terms while maintaining some control over the outcome.
Once you have settled on agreeable terms, a judge will review your petition to dissolve the marriage. If everything is in order, the judge will sign a final judgment. This final judgment dissolves the marriage and restores each of you to the status of a single person. As a result, you will no longer enjoy the benefits of marriage.
Residency Requirements for Same-Sex Couples
There are certain residency requirements in Family Code Section 2320 that heterosexual couples must satisfy before they can get a divorce in Los Angeles. At least one spouse must have lived:
- In California for 6 months prior to the divorce; and
- In Los Angeles County for 3 months prior to the divorce.
Same-sex couples are not subject to these residency requirements.
Why? For years, California was one of only a few states to recognize same-sex marriage. As a result, many same-sex couples traveled from across the country to tie the knot. When those couples decide to get divorced, their home states may not agree to help them dissolve the marriage. Some states don’t have a legal framework in place to assist same-sex divorces. California will help you get divorced even if you and/or your spouse are not residents of the state. However, the state in which you currently reside must refuse to cooperate.
While California can legally dissolve your marriage, it may not have jurisdiction to help you with other divorce issues like property division and child custody. Our attorneys can help you understand how different state laws may affect your divorce. Call us today to speak with our compassionate legal team.
California is a No-Fault State
You don’t have to jump through hoops to explain why you want to get a divorce. You also don’t have to blame one spouse for the end of the marriage. California is what is known as a “no-fault” state. This simply means that the state isn’t really interested in why the marriage is ending. You simply have to indicate whether the divorce is based on incurable insanity or irreconcilable difference.
Incurable Insanity: Divorce can be granted if one spouse suffers from a verifiable mental disease from which he or she will never recover.
Irreconcilable Differences: The term irreconcilable differences can mean a variety of different things, from infidelity to growing apart over time. It is a broad term used to explain the end of a marriage.
Divorce is a Six-Month Process
Your same-sex divorce will take at least 6 months from start to finish. In fact, Family Code §2339 doesn’t even allow a judge to review your petition until six months after you originally filed and served the paperwork. Since a divorce can’t be finalized until spouses have settled on all applicable terms, the process often takes much longer than 6 months.
Alternatives to Divorce for Same-Sex Couples in Los Angeles
Divorce may not be your only option. California offers other less-expensive and less-time consuming options for ending a legal marriage: separation, annulment, and summary dissolution.
Separation isn’t technically a way to dissolve your marriage. Instead, you and your spouse remain married but are able to live as separate individuals. Many couples like to use separation as a way to test drive a divorce before making a final decision. Other couples use separation as a way to split up while still retaining the benefits of marriage. Separated spouses can still enjoy medical benefits, retirement benefits, and tax benefits from their spouse.
Annulment is used to dissolve a marriage that is void. A marriage may be void (or voidable) if:
- You and your spouse are related
- You never formally submitted your marriage paperwork
- The marriage is based on a fraud
- You were underage when you got married, or
- One spouse was already married.
There are only limited situations in which an annulment will be granted. If you think your marriage is void (or voidable), contact Berenji & Associates for help.
Summary dissolution is an alternative to divorce for couples who have been married (domestic partners) for less than 5 years. In order to qualify, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- No children were born or adopted during the marriage
- You do not own any real estate or property
- Your current rental or lease agreement is for no longer than one year
- You haven’t acquired more than $6,000 in debt since getting married
- You’ve acquired less than $41,000 in property since getting married
- Neither spouse has more than $41,000 in separate property, and
- You agree that neither spouse will receive financial support.
If you choose summary dissolution, you must also agree to divide your property and debts. The dissolution will not be granted until you have submitted a property division agreement that is signed by both spouses.
Would you like to learn more about these alternatives to same-sex divorce in Los Angeles? Contact the legal team at Berenji & Associates to schedule your free case evaluation.
Los Angeles Same-Sex Divorce Practice Areas
Our Los Angeles same-sex divorce attorneys are prepared to help you with any disputes that may arise during your divorce, including:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Collaborative Divorce
- Divorce Mediation
- Domestic Partnerships
- Grandparent Rights
- High-Net Worth Divorce
- Legal Separation
- Military Divorce
- Modification of Orders
- Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
- Property Division
- Spousal Support, and more.
Contact our Los Angeles office today to schedule your free consultation. We will review the details of your case and answer any questions you have.
Los Angeles Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys
Are you currently in a same-sex marriage and thinking about getting a divorce? It’s important to understand all of your legal rights and options. Same-sex divorce is relatively new. You need an attorney by your side who is well-versed in applicable law and procedure. The Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Berenji & Associates have more than 25 years of combined experience. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more.