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Determining Spousal Support in a Same-Sex Divorce

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

There are several factors that a judge will consider when deciding the appropriate amount of spousal support. This includes:

  • Monthly earnings of each party
  • Expenses each party will have
  • Age and health of the spouse
  • Each party’s current financial situation and earning capacity
  • If any opportunities to make money were lost due to the marriage
  • The length of the marriage

While most of this can be easily determined for both heterosexual and same-sex couples, the length of the marriage is a unique obstacle.

The Length of the Marriage

Same-sex marriage was legalized nationally in June of 2015. California fully took this step forward in 2013, after a brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in 2008.
It is technically impossible for same-sex couples to have been legally married prior to when it was recognized in their state.

For this reason, the ‘length of marriage’ factor for alimony becomes complicated. Many same-sex couples lived together for years prior to being legally married. For example, a California couple who had been cohabitating since 1980 could only have legal proof of their marriage beginning in 2008, at the earliest.

When it comes time to determine spousal support, providing proof of long-term cohabitation before marriage may help you to receive more support.

Separate vs. Community Property

Another issue that comes up in same-sex divorce is the blurred line of separate vs. community property.
Separate property is the property that each party purchased and owned prior to entering the marriage. Community property is what was purchased together during the marriage.

This once again complicates things for same-sex couples who lived together before being able to be legally married. Many items should be considered community property, but are separate property by definition.

What About Domestic Partnerships?

Domestic partnerships became available in California in 1999.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse were in a legally recognized domestic partnership prior to being married, this will help ensure more financial support.

For domestic partnerships, these payments are called ‘partner support.’
Judges will factor in the length of the domestic partnership when determining partner support payments, in the same way that they would with spousal support.

Southern California Legal Assistance

Same-sex divorce comes with a unique set of challenges, and it is best to have an experienced Long Beach divorce lawyer on your side. Curtis Family Law understands the complexities of same-sex divorce, and is ready to advocate for you throughout the process. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.