Estate Planning Family Law Legal Topics

Taking the Guesswork Out of Community Property for Washington Domestic Partners in California

Washington recently became the seventh state (after Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont) along with the District of Columbia to allow same-sex marriage. If the law stands, Washington will be the first state with community property (other than California) to allow same-sex marriage.

The earliest same-sex couples in Washington will be able to get marriage licenses will be June 7, 2012, giving opponents a chance to qualify a referendum for the ballot to overturn the law. If the law stands, same-sex registered domestic partnerships that are not dissolved by June 30, 2014, would be converted to marriages.

In the meantime, Washington domestic partners already may have community property in California under the definition in Prob C §28. Community property generally applies to Washington and California registered domestic partners, and a Washington domestic partnership probably would be recognized as a legal union substantially equivalent to a California domestic partnership under Fam C §299.2.

The Washington marriage law would remove the guesswork from that analysis. Family Code §308(c) generally provides that same-sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction have the same rights and responsibilities as California registered domestic partners. This means that community property rights will arise automatically for same-sex couples who legally marry and acquire community property in Washington and then move to California.

Same-sex couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Oregon, and married couples in other jurisdictions that currently allow same-sex marriage, already may have quasi-community property on death or dissolution under Prob C §66.

Same-sex domestic partners from Colorado, Maine, and Wisconsin (which also has a form of community property) are less likely to have quasi-community property because these states give fewer rights to domestic partners.

For all the latest developments on same-sex marriage and domestic partnership, see the April 2012 update of California Estate Planning, chapter 4.  For everything you need to know about registered domestic partnerships in California, turn to CEB’s award-winning book California Domestic Partnerships.

© The Regents of the University of California, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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