The areas of domestic partnership and same sex marriage could not escape the recent modification of California’s legal codes.  Specifically, registration and dissolution were affected by the new legislation known as SB 651.  This new law amended two family law sections and added two more to remove the requirement that domestic partners have a common residence to register, permits establishment of a confidential domestic partnership, and permits same-sex spouses who married in California to petition for dissolution in California without the parties meeting regular residency requirements if neither spouse resides in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage.

Existing law provides that two unmarried, unrelated adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring may establish a domestic partnership by filing a declaration with the Secretary of State if certain requirements are met, including that both persons have a common residence and that both persons are at least 18 years of age.  The law also authorizes two unmarried persons, who are not minors and who have been living together as husband and wife to obtain a confidential marriage license, if certain requirements are met.

SB 651 acts to eliminate the requirements that domestic partners have a common residence.  It also permits a person who is under 18 years of age who otherwise meets the requirements for establishing a domestic partnership to do so on obtaining a court order that provides that authority to the underage person.  This recent legislation also provides for the consent of the underage person’s parent or guardian, except under prescribed circumstances, and requires that the court order and the written consent be filed with the court clerk and submitted to the Secretary of State with a Declaration of Domestic Partnership.  The bill also requires the Secretary of State to establish a process by which two persons could enter into a confidential domestic partnership and maintain each confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership, and permits the Secretary of State to charge a reasonable fee for this service.

Existing law prohibits a judgment of marital dissolution from being entered unless one of the parties to the marriage had been a resident of California for 6 months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for 3 months before the filing of the petition.  SB 651 now authorizes a court to enter a judgment of marital dissolution, nullity, or legal separation between persons of the same sex if the marriage was entered in California and neither party to the marriage resides in a jurisdiction that will dissolve the marriage.

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