The Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8 and Divorce: What Now?

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) today as unconstitutional, and declining to rule on Prop 8, therefore allowing legal same sex marriage in California, there are numerous ramifications. Some of them have to do not with marriage, but with divorce.

For example, what are the financial ramifications for same sex couples during a divorce? CLFG San Diego member Justin Reckers of Pacific Divorce Management looks at a few of the issues including taxes, benefits, and spousal support in this article.



Four Tips for Making Divorce Easier on You and Your Family

by Myra Chack Fleischer, CLF-S, Fleischer & Associates

Making the decision to get divorced is never easy. If you have been there, done that, no matter when you file you know it can be consuming and is usually the result of a thought processing lasting weeks, months, even years. If there are children involved, it is even more gut wrenching.

This is why our group so strongly recommends the collaborative divorce process to mitigate the impact to your children and your family as a whole.

But once you have crossed that bridge in your mind, heart and soul, now is the time to be ruthlessly practical. Even if you choose collaborative divorce, you must also prepare yourself and your children. This is not selfish. This is healthy, this is smart and this is in your long-term best interests.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, and there is a lot to do. As a family law attorney with experience representing hundred and hundreds of divorcing clients, there are some priorities you need to address BEFORE you break the bad news, hire an attorney, file any paperwork, or decide to avoid the court system entirely. This advice applies equally to men and women, straight or gay.

Gavel and Wedding Rings

  •  Make sure you get copies of all your financial records.

This includes bank statements, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, loans and any other debts. You will also be able to quickly tell and later prove if there are significant changes or movement of assets, and this may help you make the decision about whether collaborative divorce is right for you.

  • Make sure you have a source of funds if you do not work outside the home.

Create a financial strategy with your attorney or a divorce financial planner before any formal filing for divorce.

  • Make sure you disclose anything damaging about you and your situation to your attorney.

The last person you want to be blindsided by any misbehavior or skeletons in your closet is your attorney. He or she cannot help you to mitigate the impact if he or she knows nothing about it. Sure, it can be some embarrassing stuff to admit to extramarital affairs, criminal acts, struggles with your physical or mental health, or tweeting racy photos.

But believe me, divorce attorneys, divorce financial planners and divorce coaches have heard it all and then some. We are not shockable, and we will not think less of you. Professionals involved with divorce proceedings are committed to confidentiality. Most of it can be handled. It’s entirely possible that by getting these issues acknowledged and out of the way, the healing process can begin and a collaborative divorce may be possible. But if not, it’s better to learn this early in the divorce process.

  • Listen to professional advice.

If your attorney, divorce financial planner or divorce coach tells you something or asks you to do something, there is a reason for it. Usually it is to protect your interests and make things easier (and maybe less costly) for you and your family in the long run. We know how to engage the legal system to your best advantage, and we have plenty of experience that tells us what works and what does not work. Don’t ruin the good counsel you are getting by ignoring it.



Sperm Donor Being Pursued for Child Support

Family law attorney and CFLGSD member Myra Fleischer discussed a Kansas child support case making national news in this interview with NBC 7 San Diego. In the case, a man who participated in a private donation arranged via Craigslist to a same-sex couple is now being pursued for support after the biological mother applied for public assistance after being unable to work due to medical problems. Since the laws in Kansas and California are similar, while the case is unusual it could happen here. See Myra’s interview in the video window below.

Who Is A Parent in 2013?

by Frank X. Nageotte, CLS-FL

Faced over the last 30 years with rapid advances in the science of human reproduction and fertility, DNA analysis, and genetics, the equally rapid evolution of the legal rights of gay and lesbian individuals, and significant changes in social views regarding traditional marriage, same-sex couples, and families, the law throughout the United States has been forced to wrestle with the question of just exactly “who is a parent?”

The New Normal: Who Is a Parent

The New Normal: Who is considered a parent under the law in 2013?

The traditional “nuclear family” consisting of a married man and woman with children to whom they are connected by either biology or adoption is no longer the only family structure with which the courts must deal.  In some states, same-sex people can marry. Many other states have some form of Registered Domestic Partnership (“RDP”) for same-sex couples.  Of course, many couples (straight and gay) have children without being married or RDPs.  As a result, the definitions of “family” and “parent” have broadened significantly.

It is now legally possible in many states for a person who has no biological connection to a child, who has not adopted the child, and who is not married to (or an RDP with) the child’s biological parent, to nevertheless be found to be a “parent” of that child.  These cases often arise in connection with the break-up of a same-sex relationship.  However, disputes over parentage also arise between biological parents and stepparents, between surrogate mothers and the parties with whom they have contracted, and between sperm and/or egg donors and the recipients of their genetic material in cases of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination.

In these cases, the courts are called upon to determine and evaluate the “intent” of the parties, the terms (if any) of their contract or agreement, the roles that they each have played in the child’s life, the existence and nature of a parental “bond” between each party and the child, and exactly what form of “family” will best meet the child’s interests and needs.

These cases are by their very nature extremely emotional and often heart-rending.  Resolving these cases through litigation can be quite expensive, especially since appeals are often necessary given the unsettled nature of the law in this area.  As is generally true with regard to all family law cases, our civil litigation system is very poorly equipped to handle these deeply personal issues.  Collaborative Family Law, with its team approach, use of appropriate experts, confidentiality, and focus on problem solving, is a much better process for these cases.

Sperm donation, parental rights, and the law: Column by CFLGSD member Myra Chack Fleischer


Can a sperm donor end up on the hook for child support? The case of Kansas sperm donor William Marotta has raised numerous questions about the potential obligations of a sperm donor who never intended to be a legal parent to a child. Laws do vary from state to state; the law in California is similar to Kansas. The issue in this case arose after a same-sex couple separated, and no second parent adoption took place.

CFLGSD member Myra Chack Fleischer, lead counsel with Fleischer & Associates, explored the many issues raised in this case in her latest column for Communities Digital News at the Washington Times. Read more here. What implications does this have for your clients?

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