- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007


LOS ANGELES A judge ordered a man to continue paying alimony to his ex-wife, even though she is in a registered domestic partnership with another woman and uses the other woman’s last name.

California marriage laws say alimony ends when a former spouse remarries. Ron Garber thought that meant he was free of the obligation when he learned that his ex-wife registered her new relationship under the state’s domestic partnership law.

An Orange County judge didn’t see it that way.

The judge ruled that a registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Mr. Garber must keep writing the checks, $1,250 a month to his ex-wife, Melinda Kirkwood. Mr. Garber plans to appeal.

The case highlights questions about the legal status of domestic partnerships, an issue the California Supreme Court weighs as it considers whether same-sex “marriage” is legal. An appeals court upheld the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” last year, citing the state’s domestic partners law and ruling that it was up to the Legislature to decide whether homosexual couples can “wed.”

Lawyers arguing in favor of same-sex “marriage” say they will cite the June ruling in the Orange County case as reason to unite homosexual and heterosexual couples under one system: marriage.

In legal briefs due next month to the California Supreme Court, Therese M. Stewart, chief deputy city attorney for San Francisco, intends to argue that same-sex couples should have access to marriage and that domestic partnership doesn’t provide the same reverence and respect as marriage.

The alimony ruling shows “the irrationality of having a separate, unequal scheme” for same-sex partners, Miss Stewart said.

Mr. Garber knew his former wife was living with another woman when he agreed to the alimony, but he said he didn’t know the two women registered with the state as domestic partners under a law that was intended to mirror marriage.

“This is not about gay or lesbian,” Mr. Garber said. “This is about the law being fair.”

Miss Kirkwood’s attorney, Edwin Fahlen, said the agreement is binding regardless of whether his client is registered as a domestic partner or even “married.” He said both sides agreed the pact could not be modified and Mr. Garber waived his right to investigate the nature of Miss Kirkwood’s relationship.

Mr. Garber’s attorney, William M. Hulsy, disagreed.

“If he had signed that agreement under the same factual scenario except marriage, not domestic partnership, his agreement to pay spousal support would be null and void,” Mr. Hulsy said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More

Click to Hide