Following the DOMA decision and same-sex marriage cases, same-sex marriages are treated the same as heterosexual marriages in California. Accordingly, same-sex divorce is the same as heterosexual divorce.
In order to get divorced in California, you must meet California’s residency requirements. Either you or your spouse must have lived in:
- The state of California for the last 6 months, AND
- The same county where you plan to file for divorce for at least the last 3 months. If you and your spouse have been in California for at least six months but have lived in different counties, you can file in either county.
If you are unable to satisfy the residency requirement, you have the option to file for a legal separation. After the required time has passed and you qualify for divorce, your attorney can file an “amended petition” for you and request the court for a divorce decree.
NOTABLE EXCEPTION: If you are a same-sex couple that was married in California but now live in a state (or states) that refuses to dissolve a same-sex marriage, you can file for divorce in California regardless of the residency requirements. However, you must file for the divorce in the county where you were married (received your wedding certificate). It is important to keep in mind that if neither party lives in California, the court may not be able to make orders regarding property and debt, spousal support, or child issues. If you find yourself in that position, it is even more important that you speak with an attorney