Friday, October 20, 2006

I'd love to marry you, babe, it's just not legal!

I wonder if there will ever be a day when gay people will lament legalized gay marriage if or when it ever comes to pass. While amittedly it doesn't look good for gay couples to legally tie the knot, especially in Southern states, it's looking pretty messy in places that at least recognize so-called domestic partnerships. Like any other officially recognized institution, regulations and then shortly thereafter, lawyers get involved and then everyone has that kind of "morning after a big party" look when the legal notices start arriving in the mail. To wit:

Something like that came up in a nasty divorce filed in Alameda County Superior Court earlier this year involving an Oakland lesbian couple — one woman was a real-estate agent, the other an animal-control officer. Things got so contentious that the warring couple, who lived as domestic partners for less than three years, even fought over who had the right to attend a specific twelve-step meeting they both cherished.

Anyway, the real-estate agent, the couple's breadwinner who pulled in $265,000 in commissions last year, flipped when her ex demanded spousal support. In court papers, she claimed her partner had assured her before they registered that she would never come after her for money if they broke up. "So I felt betrayed by her retaining a lawyer and asserting that she was going to take half of everything I have," she wrote in a sworn declaration.

It's worth noting that the article is about a messy new law which requires that all domestic partnership file legal 'dissolution' paperwork. This, of course was done with the perfectly reasonable and always welcome progressive idea that the 'less fortunate' members of the partnerships get their fair due. However, the real mess was caused when the law was applied retroactively, leading to situations like this:
Out of the blue one day in May 2005, the East Bay woman wrote to her ex saying that they'd never terminated their domestic partnership and now would have to do it in court. The Oklahoma woman had never received notice from the secretary of state. In fact, she didn't even remember they'd registered as domestic partners, court papers say.

After receiving the letter from her ex, the Oklahoma woman promptly filed for divorce to comply with the new rules. Once she did, the local woman demanded spousal support and a share of the proceeds from the sale of their million-dollar Piedmont home years earlier. The financial adviser had purchased the house using a generous bonus from her employer as a $460,000 down payment. In the end, the Oklahoma woman settled out of court and picked up her ex-girlfriend's $7,500 legal tab.
Whole thing here.

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