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Ending a marriage or domestic partnership in California

Most people in California understand that a divorce, or a dissolution of marriage, ends a marriage or domestic partnership. Following a divorce, the parties are considered single and are free to marry again or enter into a domestic partnership. California is a no-fault divorce state and the only reason necessary to provide for a divorce is "irreconcilable differences."

The court, legal system and family law process seeks to help the divorcing parties reach fair and equitable agreements that allow both parties to move forward in a productive fashion following a divorce. Divorce-related issues that will be subject to agreements between the parties include property division, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation and responsibility for debts. When the parties are unable to agree, the court will step in to reach resolutions for the parties.

There is residency and other requirements for a divorce in California, and residency requirements can be different depending on the nature of the legal relationship the parties seek to dissolve. Although the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage, earlier in the summer, paved the way for couples to be able to marry or divorce in every state in the country, not all states have been accommodative when it comes to same-sex divorce. Same-sex couples who were married in California but no longer live in California, can file to end their same-sex marriage in California regardless of residency requirements if they live in a state that will not dissolve their same-sex marriage. If the spouses do not live in California, however, there may be jurisdictional limits placed on the court when resolving divorce-related issues.

Domestic partnership divorces registered in California are also not required to meet residency requirements because entering a domestic partnership in California automatically subjects the partners to California's jurisdiction. However, the same limitations may also apply to domestic partner dissolutions concerning the court's authority regarding divorce-related issues. Depending on the nature of the legal relationship between the parties, and their goals and the type of legal process they are seeking, it is important for couples to understand the divorce process and what to expect from it.

Source: California Courts, "Options to End Marriage or Domestic Partnership," Accessed Sept. 18, 2015

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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