Thursday, September 01, 2011

CA Legal Mag: High Asset Gays
Use Homophobic Law When Divorcing

(Illustration for California Lawyer. Credit: Dan Page.)

While there is much relentless cheerleading from Gay Inc, ordinary LGBT folks and Gay Foundation Inc for what they euphemistically call marriage equality instead of gay marriage, I hear nothing about divorce equality. Yeah, gay marriages also need to have back up plans when the relationship doesn't work out, but good luck finding discussion about the topic.

My partner of 15-un-married-years Mike brought home the September recycled tree edition of California Lawyer and in it was a short piece about divorce equality. I wonder if my pal legal eagle Evan Wolfson, longtime marriage equality advocate, has a position on divorce equality and uses such terminology.

Allow me to digress for a moment, and speak as a gay man in a committed relationship who with his partner enjoy not being married for a host of reasons, and say there should be a Freedom From Marriage support network for gay couples who reject the institution of marriage. Let's keep all relationship options for ourselves on the buffet table of legal entanglements.

Now, check out Paul Tullis' piece with a kicker ending, bolding added:

For a lot of California couples in domestic partnerships, the increased financial responsibilities of marriage, effective January 1, 2005, under AB 205, snuck up on them.

B. Kyle Childress, a San Francisco attorney, says this happened to him. When his partnership effectively became a marriage, the stock options belonging to his registered domestic partner became part Childress's. "It was the biggest point of contention" in their otherwise amicable divorce settlement, he says.

Assets and debts accumulated during marriage are divided equally in California, while inherited property or assets kept separate during the marriage are, for the most part, retained by the original owner. These community property provisions can be abused in a same-sex divorce.

Hertz says he's seen several instances in which "a high-asset gay person takes advantage of a homophobic law to say, 'We were only married 2 years, not 20.'"

Without a federal law, gays in marriages and registered partnerships lack the estate tax and retirement protections and Social Security benefits their straight counterparts enjoy.

With state-registered partnerships recently topping 100,000 nationwide, divorce seems destined to become the new gay marriage.

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