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Supreme Court decision could greatly impact same-sex marriage

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2013 | Property Division |

A lot is on the line for the state of California given the recent Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 and DOMA. Many Legal experts anticipate that depending on the decision of the Court, the ruling could heavily impact same-sex marriage. When it comes to divorce, state and federal law on same-sex divorce could also be heavily impacted which would mean substantially different outcomes for issues of property division, child custody and alimony tax after same-sex separation in the state of California.

Getting a divorce is a difficult process to endure, due to emotional stress and complicated issues of property division and child support to name only a few. If a same-sex couple is getting the divorce, things are even more complicated. One of the benefits of a legally recognized divorce is that the state court will oversee such a complicated consideration as property division and make a ruling on how the property between the couple is to be divided, either equitably or on a community property basis. Such a ruling requires both couples to comply making it easier on the ex-spouses.

A problem often arises when a same-sex couple legally marries in one state and then moves to another that does not recognize same-sex marriage. If the couple wants to divorce in the new state, they are often unable to do so and further no longer have proper jurisdiction to obtain a divorce in the original state. California has carved out a solution for the issue, at least to couples married in there. The law grants all same-sex couples married in the state of California jurisdiction to obtain a divorce in the state, even if they move to another state. If the Supreme Court strikes down Proposition 8, this benefit will extend to same-sex couples in the future as well.

Turning to DOMA, if such federal law is ruled unconstitutional, the federal government could no longer refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. This would mean more federal benefits for a same-sex couple in marriage and divorce. Right now, a divorced couple can share certain tax benefits by claiming child dependency, property or alimony payments. A same-sex couple, even legally married and divorced, cannot receive the same benefits under DOMA.

The Court is expected to rule on the matters this summer. The decisions could greatly impact same-sex marriage in the state of California.

Source: The Atlantic Wire, “Chaos looms if the Court strikes down DOMA and punts on Prop 8,” Elspeth Reeve, March 27, 2013


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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