Same-Sex Divorce in California

Orange County divorce lawyersThe legalization of same-sex marriage in states like California as of 2008 naturally means that some same-sex couples will also need the assistance of divorce attorneys who understand how divorce law works and applies to same-sex couples, which, perhaps surprisingly, can sometimes be challenging.


In 2008, the California Supreme Court rightfully ruled that an individual’s sexual orientation—like their gender or race—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. In doing so, many couples who had been waiting for the right to marry rushed to the courthouse to tie the knot, some concerned about Proposition 8 passing before they had the chance to do so.

In 2013, the Supreme Court nullified the Defense of Marriage Act, effectively granting federal benefits to all same-sex marriages, and almost two years later, the Supreme Court made marriage equality legal in every state. It is estimated that, today, there are approximately one million Americans in same-sex marriages.

However, unfortunately, this also means that some LGBT couples have to go through the divorce process as well; filing, serving their spouses; and dealing with both property and asset division and, in some circumstances, child custody and support issues as well.

Unfairly Penalized?

Perhaps surprisingly, finding an attorney who knows exactly what they are doing—based on the latest status of the law—and who is fair—when it comes to same-sex divorce can sometimes be difficult. Arguably, it isn’t fair to charge someone more for their case because an attorney has to do additional research if they haven’t practiced in a particular area before. This can get especially complicated if, for example, a couple:

  • was registered as California domestic partners prior to getting married;
  • adopted children;
  • relied on artificial insemination to have children, whereby one parent is now technically not the biological parent; and/or
  • got married in one state and now want to divorce in another.

Some LGBT couples find that their divorces are more complicated than opposite-sex couples even if they don’t own anything jointly or have children simply because of how confusing the law can be. This is because the law arguably needs a certain number of cases to develop before a procedure like this becomes solidified and more formulaic.

And yet, some requirements, because they are dictated by state law, remain constant: For example, at least one spouse must have lived in California for at least six months before a same-sex couple can file for divorce.

Knowledgeable, Experienced California Divorce Attorneys

R & S Law Group, LLP is proud to serve LGBT communities. We understand that the divorce process is confusing, particularly when statutory requirements and rules may or may not confer equal protection or imply the exact same things in every marriage and divorce. We are available to assist you with any aspect of your divorce, and represent clients in Orange County and surrounding areas. Contact us today to find out more.