LGBT people face many of the same family law issues as everyone else. You may be in a registered domestic partnership or marriage with someone of the same sex. Or you may be a gay, lesbian, bi, or trans person separating from an opposite sex spouse. You hope you can find an attorney who will understand your issues without judging. As a bisexual man myself, I know your fears of rejection. For this reason I practice as a LGBT friendly San Diego lawyer.
Do courts treat domestic partnerships similar to a marriage?
Ending a domestic partnership you face many of the same issues as ending a marriage. This will always include dividing community property. Sometimes one spouse files in court requesting partner support. If you have children, there will be issues of child custody and child support. The federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships. There are a few reasons you should marry your domestic partner. You can only file taxes jointly while married.
Don’t judges have biases against same-sex relationships?
There is always a risk that you will face a judge who doesn’t understand same-sex relationships. Thankfully in San Diego Family Courts I haven’t encountered any such biased rulings. California law clearly states that sexual orientation is not a good reason to deny custody. Judges are not allowed to assume that it is harmful to expose children to a same-sex relationship. I have a personal history of dealing with biases in others from my own same-sex relationship. I can educate any judge who rules against you because of personal bias.
Can you help me understand what The Supreme Court’s recent decisions mean?
On June 28th of 2013 The Supreme Court issued two decisions that have a huge impact on same-sex couples in California. First, the Prop 8 decision brought back marriage for same-sex couples in California . Second, the DOMA decision requires the federal government to recognize same-sex married couples. For now, this does not include couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions. I discussed these two cases in depth in one of my Legally LGBT columns for Gay San Diego. I am happy to meet with you to advise you of the reasons you should marry.
But we never married or registered domestic partners. Can you still help me?
Family courts only hear cases involving the breakdown of a marriage or domestic partnership. However, f you never married or registered a domestic partnership you may need to file in civil court. These are essentially breach of contract claims. The process is often difficult and the law is unclear. For this reason, I don’t file in court for these type of cases. But I work with someone who does. However, I can help you work out a separation agreement if things are amicable. In a mediation session I try to let both of you express your emotions and financial needs so that you can both accept the agreement and move on with your lives.