A divorce between a same-sex couple requires a strong understanding of federal and state laws affecting same-sex couples, as well as the history of domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage in California and under federal programs and benefits. Although California has taken a leading role in protecting the legal rights of same-sex partners, California citizens still need to contend with federal laws that disregard domestic partnership rights and otherwise jeopardize the financial security and interests of same-sex couples in California.
California was the first state to have created domestic partnership status, which was adopted in 1999. However, Congress has never recognized domestic partnership status, such that federal benefits and other federal laws disregard the legal status conferred under a California domestic partnership. Given that many same-sex couples became domestic partners before same-sex marriage was approved in 2008, this means that an attorney handling a same-sex divorce needs to consider the implications of a prior domestic partnership under both state and federal law. This is particularly necessary when a spouse has a federal pension or retirement account that should be separately considered under state and federal rules.
Our attorneys are experienced in the full range of same-sex marriage and domestic partnership issues under California and federal law. We work closely with our clients to ensure that their legal rights are protected to the greatest extent possible under the law. We also have extensive experience with the distinctive issues that can arise in custody, adoption and parentage cases with same-sex couples.