Same Sex Domestic Partnership FAQ: Looking for an attorney to dissolve a same sex domestic partnership in Orange County, California.
Finding an Attorney for the Dissolution of a Same Sex Relationship in California
Whether you are ending a same sex marriage or a same sex domestic partnership in California, you have several options: a divorce, also called a dissolution, a legal separation, or an annulment. It is also possible to dissolve both a same sex marriage and a same sex registered domestic partnership at the same time.
To find an attorney who can help you with your dissolution, legal separation, or annulment, your best option is to ask those in your local community for recommendations. To find the best family lawyer for your divorce, you will want to find one who has experience in the type of law that your case will involve. For example, if you are dissolving a same sex marriage, you will want a lawyer with experience dissolving same sex marriages.
Due to some of the extenuating circumstances surrounding same sex divorces and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships in California and the jurisdiction of certain court orders that are issued with a divorce, you may want to find a lawyer who has specific experience with couples who are most similar to you and your partner or spouse.
To find a lawyer that best fits your needs, you will likely need to do some research on your own, or take advantage of attorneys who offer free initial consultations and can offer you some general options and advice. To help you with your research, this blog post will provide general information that you may want to know prior to meeting with a divorce lawyer. Keep in mind that while the information online is useful, nothing that you find online can replace the advice of a legal professional.
Divorce, Legal Separation, or Annulment?
There are three ways to end or change a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California: a divorce, a legal separation, and an annulment.
A divorce is also called a dissolution, and can be applied to either a registered domestic partnership or a marriage in California. While the majority of this post will be dedicated to divorcing in California, it is important before you decide to get a divorce to consider that legal separation and annulment are options.
A divorce differs from these options because it ends your marriage or registered domestic partnership, and leaves both parties free to remarry or to register a new domestic partnership. Dissolutions usually include other court orders regarding the division of property and debts, spousal or partner support, child support, and child custody and visitation. In order to divorce in California, the couple needs to make sure they qualify under the residency requirements. If you are eligible, there is a simplified divorce process called a summary dissolution that is available for short-term marriages (under 5 years).
Unlike a dissolution, a legal separation does not end a marriage, and following legal separation the two parties cannot remarry or register a new domestic partnership unless they also get a divorce first. However, like a divorce, a legal separation does provide the parties with court orders regarding the division of debts and assets, spousal or partner support, child support, and child custody and visitation. There are also residency requirements that need to be met for a couple to get a legal separation in California, but they may differ slightly from the residency requirements for a dissolution.
An annulment differs from a divorce and a legal separation because rather than ending a marriage or registered partnership, it renders it invalid, and it is as if the marriage or registered domestic partnership never took place. In order to get an annulment in California, you will need to prove that your marriage was invalid for one of the reasons listed in the law. The major difference between an annulment and a divorce is that while a divorce can be granted for the reason “irreconcilable differences”, an annulment needs to meet specific standards in order to be granted.
Residency Requirements to Dissolve a Same Sex Marriage or a Same Sex Registered Domestic Partnership in California
If you and your spouse are married, regardless of gender, you need to meet the following two residency requirements in order to divorce in California - with one exception.
• First, one of the spouses needs to have lived in California for at least the last six months, and
• Second, one of the spouses needs to have lived in the county where the divorce will be filed for at least the last three months.
Failing to meet the residency requirements is one of the reasons that couples opt to get a legal separation prior to getting a divorce. There is one relevant exception to the above residency requirements, but in order to qualify, you need to meet these requirements:
• You and your spouse are in a same sex marriage,
• You and your spouse were married in California,
• You and your spouse do not live in California,
• You and your spouse live in a state (or two states) that will not recognize or dissolve a same sex marriage.
If you meet these requirements, you and your spouse are eligible to file for divorce in California, but ONLY in the county where you were married.
Unfortunately, because divorces usually include court orders that dictate who will be responsible for paying community debts, how property and assets will be divided, where the children will spend their time, and which spouse will be responsible for paying spousal and child support, it is important to work with a qualified attorney who understands how these orders can be made so that they will work for you and your family, regardless of where you live. It is important to find a way to enforce these court orders, or to make agreements between you and your spouse so that even if California does not have jurisdiction over your current home, you and your spouse can work out how you will move on from your marriage.
If you and your partner registered your domestic partnership in California, you do not have to meet any residency requirements in order to divorce in California; by registering your domestic partnership in California, you have already agreed to the jurisdiction of the county in which you registered. Neither party needs to ever have lived in California in order to divorce in the county where you registered your domestic partnership.
However, if your domestic partnership was not registered in the State of California, you will need to meet the following two residency requirements in order to divorce in California.
• One partner must have lived in California for at least the last six months, and
• One partner must have lived in the county where the divorce will be filed for at least the last three months.
Keep in mind that the although you can divorce in California even if you do not live in the State, it may be difficult to enforce the court orders issued in a divorce regarding the division of property and debts, spousal support, child support, and child custody and visitation. It is best to work with an attorney who has experience in these areas and with divorcing registered domestic partners who reside outside of California.
Marriage and Registered Domestic Partnership
If you are in both a marriage and a registered domestic partnership and you wish to terminate both, you must meet the residency requirements for both.
LGBT Attorney to dissolve a same sex domestic partnership in California
In addition to helping you through the process of a divorce in California and sharing expertise on the issuance and enforcement of the related court orders, your California divorce lawyer can also help you to set the terms of your divorce and your related court orders. In any divorce, setting the terms of the divorce is usually one of the most difficult and time consuming parts of a divorce.
It is more important in cases where the parties do not live in California than in ones that involve parties that do live in California to come up with agreements and court orders that both parties can agree to. The bigger role the divorcing couple plays in the development of their own court orders, the more likely they are to follow the terms of the orders and to be happy with the results.
Working with an attorney who has experience in alternative dispute resolution allows you and your spouse or partner to work together to create your own divorce agreement. Discuss the option of mediation or collaborative law with your attorney. These methods of working through the conflicts in your divorce and creating a divorce agreement that you can both agree to have proven to be some of the most effective ways of dealing with out of state divorces.
If you and your spouse or partner are considering divorcing in California, contact the attorneys at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation with a qualified California divorce lawyer.