Certain California same-sex divorce residency requirement exceptions. Though the right to marry for same-sex couples is quickly expanding throughout the country, there are still a significant number of states that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. In order to legally marry, many same-sex couples travel to states like California for their official wedding ceremonies, and then return to reside in their home states.
While this plan works well for couples who remain happily married, it does cause significant complications for couples who wish to get divorced. This is because states maintain a residency requirement for any couple seeking to dissolve their marriage, meaning that family courts generally lack the jurisdiction to grant divorces for out-of-state couples. However, if a same-sex married couple lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, the courts will likely refuse to grant a divorce because, in the eyes of that state, there is no marriage dissolve. In fact, in many states, same-sex married couples are engaging in lengthy legal battles challenging state laws simply to get a divorce.
Instead of challenging state laws, many same-sex couples in such states decide to simply live separately, though remain legally married. While this may work for some time, it can cause problems down the line. For instance, if one of the spouses is suddenly injured or falls ill, the other spouse may be asked to make important medical decisions. One spouse may continue to hold a growing interest in the others retirement accounts or other benefits, and they may retain rights to inherit property upon the others death. Certain debts accrued during the separation may still count as marital debt if the couple never obtained a divorce. For these reasons and more, it is not always wise for unhappy couples to live separate lives while remaining legally married.
The Solution in California
In general, in order to successfully petition a California family court to dissolve a marriage, either one or both spouses must have lived within the state of California for at least six months prior to filing, and must have lived within the specific county in which they filed for at least three months. This means that couples who only travel briefly to California to get married would be ineligible to obtain a divorce in California.
California courts acknowledged the issue of same-sex couples married within that state unable to obtain a divorce in their home states. Therefore, courts outlined an exception to the residency requirement for such couples. In order to qualify for this exception, the following must apply:
- You got married in the state of California;
- Neither spouse currently resides in California;
- Neither spouse resides in a state that will dissolve a same-sex marriage.
If you meet all these criteria, you may file for divorce in the California county in which you were married.
If you have any questions or require any assistance regarding any divorce issues in California, please do not hesitate to contact Beck Law P.C. in Santa Rosa to discuss your case today.