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San Diego Same Sex Marriage Attorneys

If you are considering ending your same-sex marriage in San Diego, California, this is not a legal matter that you should attempt to handle on your own. The laws and issues surrounding LGBTQ divorce cases in California are different – and often more complex – than those that apply to opposite-sex marriages. The best way to protect yourself during an LGBTQ divorce is with an experienced San Diego divorce lawyer representing you.

Why Choose Boyd Law?

At Boyd Law, we are a team of hard-working and successful family law attorneys led by our founder, Certified Family Law Specialist Attorney Karie Boyd. Karie has special training and education in the specialty area of family law compared to a noncertified divorce lawyer. This puts her in a unique position to help clients with particularly complicated cases, including LGBTQ divorce or legal separation. We have spent years litigating California divorce cases – long enough to understand the full history of same-sex marriage laws in the state.


Over the last 30-plus years, there has been a proverbial sea change in legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Several states now allow same-sex marriages. After a recent US Supreme Court decision overturning a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that limited federal recognition of same-sex marriages, same-sex couples who have been formally married are eligible for federal benefits that depend on the status of the spouse.

Contact a San Diego same-sex marriage lawyer if you have any legal questions or need legal representation in a same-sex marriage case. California gay and lesbian couples have been riding a legal rollercoaster, as some California jurisdictions legalized same-sex marriage only to have their marriages invalidated by Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. Proposition 8 has since been overturned, and today same-sex couples enjoy marriage equality in the state. The Boyd Law family law attorneys in San Diego, CA have a great understanding and successful experience handling same-sex marriage cases.


Federal rights and benefits were for a long time blocked by the terms of the Defense of Marriage Act. But in 2013, the US Supreme Court overturned the portion of DOMA that kept same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits. It still isn’t completely clear what impact that will have on specific federal rights and benefits because each federal agency sets eligibility rules, and there may still be questions about the status of same-sex couples who were married in California but have moved to a different state.

The Social Security Administration, which runs both Social Security and Medicare, has long applied a “Place of Domicile” rule to determine who is a “spouse” under these programs. Under that rule, a partner in a California same-sex marriage would qualify as a spouse under those programs. Pending the final rules on eligibility, same-sex spouses may now be eligible for survivor benefits under various programs, a wide array of tax and estate benefits available to spouses, and spousal support benefits available to employees of the federal government nationwide.


Having won the right to marry in California, many same-sex spouses now find that getting divorced isn’t that easy, either. A same-sex divorce in California is essentially the same as any other. The problem is that divorce rights are generally determined by the law of the state where the people live.

If the same-sex spouses married in California move to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, and especially if they live in a state that is actively hostile to it, they may find themselves unable to obtain a legally recognizable divorce. It might be necessary to return to California and reestablish residency if you want a divorce. A San Diego divorce lawyer at Boyd Law can help you obtain your same-sex divorce.

Some LGBTQ divorce cases involve unique issues that do not arise in other cases, such as questions of parentage or paternity, adopted children, a shorter marriage due to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage (a potential issue in terms of alimony), and property division complications. If you wish to fully ensure the protection of your legal rights during an LGBTQ divorce case, hire an attorney to represent you.

Do You Need an Attorney for an LGBTQ Divorce in California?

You are not legally required to hire a lawyer for a divorce case in California. Individuals are able to represent themselves during mediation, arbitration and divorce trials. However, this may not be in your best interest if you have a particularly complex case – such as the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. As an LGBTQ individual, your divorce case may pose special challenges and barriers that require an experienced family law attorney in San Diego to overcome.

The right attorney for your case will have prior experience handling same-sex marriages and divorces. You should be able to rely on your attorney to efficiently navigate the very latest in federal and state same-sex marriage and divorce laws. You should also trust your attorney to put the well-being of your family first. Your lawyer should answer your questions and help you pursue your goals using proven legal strategies. With an experienced divorce lawyer by your side, you can enjoy greater peace of mind and improve the odds of getting the case results that you want.

Legal Requirements for LGBTQ Divorce in San Diego

Before a couple can dissolve an opposite-sex marriage in San Diego, they must meet California’s residency requirements. California requires at least one spouse to have resided within the state for six months prior to filing. In addition, one person must have lived in the county where he or she files for at least the past three months. However, these rules do not apply to same-sex couples.

During your LGBTQ divorce in San Diego, you do not have to prove that you or your spouse has been a resident of California or San Diego County for any amount of time. The residency requirements are waived for same-sex couples. Even if you live out of state, you can file for divorce in a California courthouse if California is where you got married. This exemption to the residency requirement helps to make divorce easier for same-sex couples who were married in California (as one of the first states to legalize gay marriage) and then moved away.

Like other California divorce cases, an LGBTQ divorce requires the couple to wait at least six months before the courts will finalize the dissolution of marriage. This six-month waiting period is in place to help prevent couples from quickly getting divorced, only to reconcile later and wish to remarry. You can utilize the mandatory waiting period to work with a lawyer on settling the terms and details of your LGBTQ divorce.


No field of law is changing as rapidly as same-sex marriage. The right of same-sex couples—to marry, divorce, adopt, and obtain benefits under a myriad of local, state, and federal programs—remains subject to almost daily change. If you are concerned about any of these issues, it helps to get the advice of a California family law attorney.

At the Boyd Law Firm in San Diego, our San Diego same-sex marriage attorneys care about each client’s individual needs and respect their right to be treated honestly and respectfully. We are committed to remaining current on federal and state legislation and court decisions that affect your marriage rights, and you can count on our attorneys being fully aware of all the latest changes in this evolving area of law.

Contact Boyd Law today for expert advice on issues concerning your legal rights and responsibilities in a California same-sex marriage or divorce case. Your first meeting with one of our experienced family law attorneys is always free.