Lis and the Single Girl: Alimony and Domestic Partnership

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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My ex is supposed to pay me alimony, but because now I'm living with a woman, he wants to stop payment. That doesn't seem fair. Does a domestic partnership allow him to sidestep his responsibilities?

I thought this was a great follow up topic to yesterday's “Single Girl” column addressing the law and cohabitation. I don't know how many of you have been following the California lawsuit addressing this very question, but it's very controversial and could ultimately change the legalities of alimony and domestic partnerships.

Recently, an Orange County judge ordered Ron Garber to continue paying his ex-wife, Melinda Kirkwood, the $1,250 per month of alimony that was agreed to in their divorce — even though Melinda is now dating and living with a woman in a domestic partnership.

The contested problem? Under California divorce law, alimony (also known as spousal support) ends when the ex remarries. Under this definition, Mr. Garber thought he was free and clear of his payments when he learned that his former wife registered her new relationship under the state's domestic partnership … but not so fast. According to the California trial judge, a domestic partnership is not considered “married” in the traditional sense, it's actually considered cohabitation, therefore, Garber must keep writing those monthly checks. Garber and his lawyer are not taking this lying down and are appealing the decision. They maintain that he should not have to continue his alimony payments because for all intents and purposes, she's remarried.

The California Supreme Court is currently weighing the issue of whether same-sex marriage should be made legal. Currently, the Golden State has a ban on same-sex marriage and an appeals court upheld the ban in 2006, citing the California domestic partnership law. What does this mean for you? For now, unless you're in Massachusetts (the only state that allows same-sex marriages), the law is on your side and your ex-hubby must continue payments — but things could, and will, change as situations evolve.

Bottom line — The alimony ruling and other gaps in domestic partnership law “highlight the irrationality of having a separate, unequal scheme” for same-sex partners, San Francisco City Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart said. In other words, advocates against gay marriage can't have it both ways. As they say, either shut up or put up.

• Have a question for Lis? E-mail her and check back tomorrow for another edition of "Lis and the Single Girl."

• CLICK HERE for yesterday's entry!


• California Man Ordered to Pay Ex-Wife Alimony Despite Her Domestic Partnership With Woman

• Alimony to Ex-Wife in Domestic Partnership to Continue

• Man Ordered to Pay Ex-Wife Alimony, Despite Domestic Partnership

• Domestic partnership in the United States

* Disclaimer

The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

• E-mail Lis With Your Legal Questions!

Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.