Alimony provides a same-sex union test

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An Orange County man appeals an order to pay spousal support to his ex-wife, who is in a domestic partnership.
July 22, 2007


"Ron Garber knew his former wife was living with another woman — and had taken her last name — when he agreed to pay her $1,250 a month in alimony.

"What he didn't know was that the two women had registered with the state as domestic partners under a law that was supposed to mirror marriage law, Garber said.

State marriage laws say that alimony ends when the former spouse remarries, and Garber reasons he should be off the hook, given that domestic partnership is akin to marriage. But an Orange County judge has decided that registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must pay. 'This is not about gay or lesbian,' Garber said. 'This is about the law being fair.'

"...Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, said the Orange County case, if upheld on the grounds that partnership is not marriage, will underscore that the law does not provide equal treatment for domestic partners.

"'It is better treatment if she can have her domestic partner and alimony too,' Pizer said."