Los Angeles Domestic Partnership & Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer

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With the recognition of same-sex marriage and its associated matters comes the legal need for domestic partnership dissolution and divorce. At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles domestic partnership and same-sex divorce attorneys are experienced with:

  • California’s domestic partnership & same-sex divorce laws
  • Proficient in all of California’s family law statutes regarding same-sex issues
  • Dedicated to compassionate client advocacy regardless of sexual orientation

If you are considering divorce and need professional legal assistance, have your questions answered by the divorce professionals at Fernandez & Karney. Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers will aggressively protect your legal and personal interests and stand by you through this challenging time in your life.

California’s Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 was enacted on January 1, 2005. This Act affords couples who register domestic partnerships in the State of California similar rights and responsibilities to those granted to opposite-sex couples married in the State. California is also one of several states now recognizing same-sex marriage. 

How Our Domestic Partnership and Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys Can Help

Divorce is stressful and affects every aspect of your life. If you and your spouse have children and share real property, this is especially so. Fernandez & Karney understands this and wants to ensure you get the legal advice and resources you need to make your divorce process manageable.

We are a full-service law firm and will handle all of the legal aspects of your divorce and act as a buffer between yourself, your spouse, and your spouse’s attorney.  

Fernandez & Karney will also:

  • Prepare and file all of your legal documents in a correct and timely manner
  • Work to expedite your divorce through negotiations, mediation, or other means
  • Present a logical, well-prepared case before the court in any litigation
  • Prepare clear and concise final divorce orders, including child custody and visitation agreement, child support order, asset and debt division, and spousal support order where appropriate.

Call Fernandez & Karney now to find out how California’s divorce laws affect your domestic partnership or same-sex marriage. Our Los Angeles domestic partnership divorce lawyers can also assist you with other same-sex issues like wills, initial child custody agreements, and child custody and visitation modifications.

Divorce in California

Whether a same-sex couple is registered as married, part of a domestic partnership, or part of a civil union, they may be granted a divorce or dissolution of partnership in California.   

California is a No-Fault Divorce State

California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that the grounds for divorce are cited as “irreconcilable differences.”  Neither party must shoulder blame or responsibility for the termination of the marriage or domestic partnership.

Residency Requirements for a California Divorce

California has specific residency requirements to qualify for a divorce. A spouse must be a state resident for at least six months before filing for a divorce.  That spouse must reside in the county where they file for divorce for three months.

However, a spouse may file for a legal separation without meeting the residency requirement. Once the residency requirement is met, an amended petition may be filed and a divorce requested from the court.

California’s Waiting Period for a Divorce

California has a mandatory six-month waiting period between the date of filing for a divorce and the date a divorce may be granted by the court. It does not matter if a divorce is uncontested and agreed upon. Divorcing spouses do NOT have to separate during this period. There is no requirement for a period of separation before divorce in California, despite the six-month waiting period.

The majority of divorce cases take longer than six months to complete, but even if an uncontested divorce progresses quickly, the spouses must still wait out the remainder of the required six months before finalization. When a divorce proceeds quickly, the court can submit the final judgment before the end of the six-month waiting period, but a judge will not finalize the decree until 6 months and one day from the filing date.

California considers this six-month period as a “cooling off period” that serves to allow divorcing spouses to minimize discord before heading to court. The waiting period also allows room for reconciliation should the spouses decide to reunite during this time. One study shows that 40% of divorcing spouses try to reunite at least once during the divorce process.

Special Challenges for Same-Sex Couples

According to a 2021 study, California is one of the top ten states with the highest number of same-sex households. Married same-sex couples make up 62.6% of these same-sex households, totaling 1.2% of married spouses in the state. About 1.6% of same-sex marriages in California end in divorce each year.

A particularly challenging matter for same-sex couples can be child custody.  Without a child custody and visitation agreement, the courts must use the evidence on hand to make a child custody ruling.  This brings any biological data, primary caregiver roles, and more into play. 

This can increase the emotional and parental frustration and tension already present in a divorce involving children.  

LGBTQ+ Divorce Mediation

As with any divorce in California, LGBTQ+ spouses or domestic partners must abide by the state’s laws for the division of marital property during divorce. Family courts in California consider spouses as a marital community. All assets accumulated by each spouse separately and both spouses together during the marriage belong to the marital community and thus, are subject to equal distribution during a divorce.

Courts in California afford divorcing spouses every opportunity to draft their own divorce agreement, including resolving matters of equal distribution of their marital assets and child custody schedules. Without a mutually agreeable settlement, a judge must make the final decisions and issue orders. Divorce mediation is one way to come to an agreement on these issues outside of a courtroom through the help of a professional mediator. Mediators often offer resolutions to commonly contested matters that the spouses otherwise might not have considered.

The mediation procedure typically follows these steps:

  • An initial consultation with a professional mediator to explain the process to both spouses and set up a date for mediation
  • Both parties and their attorneys must produce full financial disclosures
  • Begin negotiating all issues of contention in the first mediation session.

While some spouses reach agreements during the first session, spouses with high assets or many issues of contention could take several sessions to reach resolutions on all matters.

Mediation sessions take place in a neutral setting, often with both mediation attorneys present with their clients to facilitate a safe and orderly atmosphere for negotiating contentious issues.

A mediator drafts a final judgment once both parties reach agreeable terms. In most cases, a judge simply signs off on the agreement unless it’s egregiously unfair to one spouse or there is an indication that one spouse signed the agreement under duress.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Domestic Partnership and Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

Whether you are currently married, are interested in creating a registered domestic partnership, or have decided to end your relationship, contact Fernandez & Karney.  Our experienced domestic partnership and same-sex divorce attorneys can help you through every step of this potentially challenging process.

For more information on domestic partnership and same-sex marriage issues, contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss your concerns. When you retain Fernandez & Karney, you retain more than a team of experienced attorneys. Our team includes forensic accountants, investigators, and highly skilled support staff working to resolve your case.