California Domestic Partnership, Civil Union, and Same-Sex Marriage FAQs
Q: Does California allow same-sex marriages?
A: Yes. Same-sex marriage was re-legalized in California when the U.S. Supreme Court held Proposition 8 unconstitutional in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry. As a result of the Court’s decision, gay and lesbian couples in California have had the same marriage rights as opposite-sex couples since July 2013.
Q: I got married to my same-sex partner in California before Proposition 8 went into effect. Is my marriage still valid?
A: Yes. While Proposition 8 placed a moratorium on new same-sex marriages in California, it did not invalidate existing marriages.
Q: Are other states required to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in California?
A: Yes. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, effective June 26, 2015, all 50 states are required to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Q: I am in a same-sex marriage, and my spouse and I currently reside in San Diego. We have decided that we no longer want to be married due to irreconcilable differences. Are we able to get a divorce in California?
A: Yes. Same-sex couples can seek a divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” in California under the same laws that govern heterosexual couples. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that divorcing spouses can cite “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for ending their marriage.
Q: My spouse and I were married legally as a same-sex couple in California last summer, but we have since moved to another state. We are now planning to file for divorce. Are we able to divorce in California even though we don’t meet the California residency requirements?
A: Yes, though following Obergefell v. Hodges this may not be necessary. However, certain states – particularly in the South – are resisting the Supreme Court’s ruling, so it may still make sense for you to take advantage of the California’s residency exception for same-sex couples. This exception allows same-sex couples to file for divorce in California if the state where they reside will not dissolve their marriage.
In order to use the residency exception, you must file for divorce in the California county in which you were married. However, it is important to note that the California courts may not be able to issue orders concerning property division, spousal support, child support, or child custody if you live out of state. You can contact our San Diego divorce attorneys to learn more.
Q: I live in California. How can I end my same-sex domestic partnership or civil union?
A: California law allows for registration of same-sex domestic partnerships, and also recognizes civil unions entered into in other states. Partners in these relationships receive the same rights and benefits as married couples in California, so ending a domestic partnership or civil union is akin to going through a divorce.
If your domestic partnership is registered in California, you must file for termination in California as well. For other domestic partnerships and civil unions, you can file in California as long as: (i) you or your domestic partner has lived in California for the past six months, and (ii) you or your domestic partner has lived for the past 3 months in the county where you plan to file for termination.
Contact the Law Offices of Renkin & Associates for More Information
Attorney Richard M. Renkin is a Certified Family Law Specialist who provides legal representation for same-sex couples in all matters relating to marriage and divorce. If you have more questions about your rights in California or the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, contact us today to schedule a case evaluation.