Los Angeles Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer
According to statistics released by the Williams Institute, 77 percent of all LGBT couples in the Pacific states reside in California. The reality of same sex marriages is becoming normal across the United States and LGBT couples enjoy the right to get married in Los Angeles.
However, some couples will find themselves is a situation where they will need assistance of a divorce lawyer. Under California law, same sex couples have the same divorce rights as any other couple.
Although California was one of the first states to legalize marriage between same-sex couples, a same-sex divorce can still be a difficult process, sometimes more difficult than marriages between two partners of the opposite sex. This is due in part to the many gray areas that still exist when same-sex marriage comes to an end.
California recognizes no-fault divorces. This means if you have decided you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, you can pursue a divorce without having to prove reasons to get one.
Divorce laws are designed to create a fair split between couples so they can move on with their lives. The major considerations of a divorce are normally spousal support, child custody, property division, debt responsibility, and legal fees.
With the newness of same-sex marriage, same-sex divorce has been likened to the divorce of heterosexual couples in the early 1900s. Even though gray areas exist, with the assistance of a skilled LGBT divorce attorney in Los Angeles, you could receive what you are entitled to in your divorce.
To give readers a better understanding on getting an LGBT divorce, our California divorce attorneys are providing an overview below.
Unique Challenges in California LGBT Divorces
Marriage is an institution long engrained into the legal and social framework in California. On the other hand, LGBT marriage is new, bringing with it unique challenges that have never previously been dealt with.
One prime example is that common law marriage is not legally recognized in California. It is not uncommon for same-sex couples to co-habitat long before tying the knot. However, the court will not consider any of this time together before their legal marriage when it comes to determining who gets what in a divorce.
In these cases, the division of property often becomes quite complex. Without the experience of a Los Angeles LGBT divorce attorney, you could be getting an unfair result in your divorce. Unlike heterosexual divorces, same sex divorces might require the couple to dissolve a domestic partnership. Domestic partnerships are similar to a marriage in California.
If you are legally bound by both covenants, you might need to dissolve both the marriage and domestic partnership. After you have dissolved one or both of these arrangements, then the state will consider you single and eligible for a future marriage.
Division of Assets in an LGBT Divorce
LGBT couples are more likely to marry later in life, carrying with them more valuable assets than couples who wed when they are younger. Prenuptial agreements are even more essential for these couples as they stand to lose more if the marriage dissolves.
If a prenuptial agreement is in place, the courts will enforce it. Without such an agreement or the ability of each spouse to negotiate, the court will determine alimony and child support, as well as the division of assets such as:
- Real estate holdings
- Bank accounts
- Pension plans
Without a prenuptial agreement or two spouses that are willing to work together to determine and negotiate the terms of their divorce, the family court will look at factors such as:
- Who added what asset to the marriage, and when?
- What did each partner contribute to the marriage?
- What did they bring with them from before the marriage?
- What evidence does each spouse have to demonstrate his or her right to possessions?
LGBT Divorce Requirements in California
Each state has its own requirements that a spouse who wants to file for divorce must meet. To file for divorce in California, the conditions are the same for same-sex couples as they are for opposite-sex couples:
- Either spouse can file for divorce citing irreconcilable differences with no further details about why they are seeking the divorce
- One spouse must live in the state of California for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce
Community Property State
California is a community property state for both same-sex and heterosexual marriages. In a community property state, property acquired after the legal marriage took place, no matter who earned it belongs to the marriage or each couple equally. It does not matter who bought the property or who earned the money to buy it.
Property acquired by one spouse before the marriage, even if the couple was living together at the time, is considered separate property of that spouse in most instances. If there is property or another asset you want to keep in your divorce, hiring an LGBT divorce lawyer in Los Angeles could help you reach an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Child Custody and Same Sex Divorce
Another common gray area in LGBT divorce is child custody. In many cases, it is best for both spouses and their children if an amicable agreement can be reached regarding custody and visitation, which a Los Angeles LGBT divorce lawyer can assist with.
Child custody rights are often a roadblock some same sex couples face. If the couple is unable to make a mutual compromise regarding child custody and visitation rights, the courts will take biological information, caregiver roles, and other information into consideration.
This often doesn't work out for some couples. Until the time legal precedents are put in place to help the family law courts create standardized judgment rules, some child custody battles can make same sex couple divorces more difficult.
Again, it's important to note that if a child custody agreement cannot be reached, the judge is basically forced to consider who the biological parent is and the perceived caregiver roles within the marriage to make a final decision about child custody.
Residency Requirements for Gay Divorce
California has a residency requirement for divorcing heterosexual couples, but it's not the same for LGBT couples. California waives the residency requirement for gay couples. California allows couples married here request a divorce, regardless where they currently live.
However, it should be noted that the state of California might not have jurisdiction over certain legal issues that affect your divorce. This is why it's important to seek legal counsel who can assist you in navigating these complex situations.
Under California law, the divorce process will take at least 6 months. It begins when one spouse files a petition for a divorce and formally serves the divorce papers to the other spouse.
After six months have passed, a family court judge will review your petition for a divorce. However, it should be noted that the judge won't sign the divorce decree unless you have agreed to all of the relevant terms of the separation, such as property division, child custody, and child visitation.
LGBT Divorce Attorney in California
For most Californians, divorce is never quick and straightforward. For LGBT couples, it is often more challenging due to several gray areas and the lack of legal precedent set by previous cases as in heterosexual marriages.
Using an LGBT divorce attorney in Los Angeles can help ensure that your divorce is as successful as possible for each party involved. Summary dissolution could help young LGBT couples who haven't been married very long. You are eligible if you have been married for less than 5 years, have no children together, and don't own real property together.
Getting a divorce is not easy and the divorce process can be more complicated if you are seeking to end a gay marriage. You need to retain a lawyer who knows how to handle these complex divorce cases. Our Certified Family Law Specialists can help you. Use the online contact form to schedule your consultation with one of our compassionate lawyers or call our law firm.