Domestic Partnership vs Marriage : Alimony Takes a Twist

by Laura Smith
Aug. 9, 2007
Marriage versus domestic-partnership law: Are there benefits to one and not the other? The California attorney general’s office has argued that gays enjoy the rights of marriage under the domestic-partnership law, but it seems that an Orange County judge doesn’t see it that way.
Ron Garber’s divorce proceedings took on a twist that leaves him wondering about the fairness of family law issues, something gays and lesbians have been wondering about for years. It seems Garber agreed to pay alimony for five years to his ex-wife. He was aware at the time of the alimony agreement that she was living with another woman. What he failed to find out was she and her partner had registered as domestic partners with the state. When Garber learned about this, he assumed there would be no alimony. An Orange County judge ruled differently, stating that a registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage. So Garber must keep writing the checks.
Another somewhat unusual alimony case in Florida saw Lawrence Roach divorce his wife of 18 years and agree to pay alimony. His ex-wife, Julia, had a sex-change operation, and Roach sued to stop payments to Julia, who had legally become Julio Roberto Silverwolf. What’s really interesting is that in Florida, same-sex marriages are not recognized, and thus Roach would be paying alimony to a person he couldn’t marry. According to The Washington Post, Roach’s lawyers said the case “falls into a legal void.”