California Now Has A Gay Divorce Law

by Beverly A. Pekala on October 13, 2011

This headline may seem confusing, considering that gay marriage is not legal in California . So if you are a gay couple and can’t be married in California, why would California need a gay divorce law? Believe it or not, the answer is simple. Once upon a time gay marriage was legal in California, until Proposition 8 was overturned in 2008. So the problem that needed fixing was how a couple married in California while gay marriage was legally recognized there could now divorce.  

 Problem solved. Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law known as SB 651, which becomes effective January, 2012. It provides that if a couple were married in California but live in a state which won’t grant them a divorce, a California court can divorce them. You might wonder why a state wouldn’t grant a gay couple a divorce. The answer is that the state may not recognize gay marriage in the first place, so that the state wouldn’t be able to grant them a divorce.

 As you might imagine, there are many questions that remain unanswered under this new California law and no doubt there will be future litigation regarding this law. But at least it provides a method to allow couples who are legally married to dissolve their relationship and move on.


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