Married same-sex couples in California may find that the process of getting a divorce may be more complicated than that for a heterosexual couple. Although all states are required to allow same-sex marriages since the landmark Supreme Court decision in 2015, the manner in which a divorce is conducted is primarily determined on the state level, with a few exceptions. Same-sex couples may find that using mediation may be a more effective way of getting divorce than going through litigation.
Federal regulations oversee certain divorce issues, such alimony payment deductions and the transfer of retirement assets without being assessed taxes. However, some divorce issues, such as parental rights and asset division, are state legal issues that can present complications. One main issue is determining when the marriage began, which is an important factor in determining how assets should be divided and if a spouse is entitled to spousal support.
The longer a marriage lasts, the more gravity it is given by judges when they have to award alimony or a portion of assets to a spouse that has made lower earnings.
For same-sex couples who resided together for a number of years before becoming legally married in 2015 and then decide to get a divorce, it can be unclear as to when the union should be legally considered to have begun. Courts in some states will allow the addition of the number of years a couple resided together before getting married. However, this does not happen in every case, and if one spouse earned significantly more, the lower earning spouse could be a disadvantage from an alimony standpoint. An attorney who is familiar with the mediation process can often be of assistance in helping a client reach an accord on these types of issues.