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Family Law for Same-Sex Couples

Legal Dissolution of Same-Sex Relationships
Same-Sex Partner Adoptions
Custody Actions
Name Change Petitions

Legal Dissolution of Same-Sex Relationships
Ending a relationship is hard, but ending a relationship and the law not recognizing your relationship is even harder.  When a same-sex couple ends their relationship, they face the same issues as a divorcing couple: child custody and visitation, child support, and property division, but will need a knowledgeable attorney that is aware of the laws that affect the glbt community.

In order to protect their rights, same sex couples have jointly titled real property and financial accounts. However, these gay and lesbian couples often can not find adequate support when they are faced with the dissolution of their relationship and the need to divide their property. Our California law firm is experienced in assisting same-sex couples with this difficult task.

The first foremost option for all same sex couples would be to do preplanning and enter into domestic partnership agreements or cohabitation agreements.  However, if this was not done we must look to other areas of the law to assist these couples. One legal option involves the use of partition actions. Partition is the process of dividing jointly owned property, either by permitting one party to purchase the other party's share from the other party or by ordering the sale of the property and dividing the proceeds in proportion to each party's ownership. A partition action for jointly held real estate or other assets proceeds on a contract or quasi-contract grounds

Same-Sex Partner Adoptions
Same-sex couples can become parents in a variety of ways. For example, they can adopt a child from a third party or one of the partners in the same sex couple can give birth through the usage of a third party sperm or egg donor.

Even if one partner is the biological parent or egg or sperm donor of the child, the other parent may not have any legal rights regarding that child in the event of the relationship ending either by choice or due to the death of a biological parent. This is true even if both parents have been actively involved in raising the child from its birth, living with the child, or financially supporting the child and the other parent. Same sex couples with children must take additional precautions, such as same sex partner adoptions, to ensure that both parent's rights are legally protected. Under California law, gay and lesbian couples may participate in a second parent adoption. This allows the non-biological parent of the child to become legal parents and establish rights which will be protected by law. In addition to protecting the non-biological parent's rights, adoption also protects the child because it awards the child the opportunity to have health insurance through the non-biological parent and grants the child inheritance rights in the event that the non-biological parent dies without a valid last will and testament.

Custody Actions
There may be circumstances where the same-sex non-biological parent has not adopted the partner's minor children and the relationship comes to an end. In this circumstance, California law may not recognize the rights of the same sex partner who is not the biological parent of minor children when the non-biological partner resided in the same household with the children and played a significant role in their upbringing. When a biological parent separates from their same sex partner and the biological parent refuses meaningful contact with the former partner, the former partner has no rights to file a Complaint for Custody and seek the legal recognition of the relationship with the minor children. That is why it is important to do preplanning to accomplish this goal.back to top

Name Change Petitions
Many couples wish to share the same last name, particularly when minor children are involved. This process involves filing a verified name change petition in the County Court of the county of your residence, followed by a court appearance after a thirty day waiting period. This also includes going to the Social Security Administration office to have your name changed with their office.

Many transgender individuals need assistance in changing their name and may be still feeling embarrassed about the process or want to avoid publicity. The process of changing a name should never be embarrassing and with the trusted advisors of Same Sex Legal and the law offices of Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica, LLP. we will ensure that the process is completed properly and without continued stress to our clients. We welcome all individuals and are sensitive to the feelings of our transgender community. 

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