Back in 2010, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Jane Lynch was at the height of her fame. She was also in love, and in June of that year she and her girlfriend, a clinical psychologist, were married here in Massachusetts. The couple then registered as domestic partners in California, their main state of residence. To many of her fans’ dismay, however, Lynch announced earlier this summer that she has filed for divorce in California.
One interesting question in the case is exactly what legal process the dissolution will take. At the time of Lynch’s marriage, California was under an injunction not to perform same-sex marriages due to litigation over Proposition 8. While that state constitutional amendment was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court this year in Hollingsworth v. Perry, it is unclear from media reports whether their registered domestic partnership is considered a legal marriage in California. As the couple has been separated since February, it is unlikely they took action to legalize their marriage after same-sex unions were re-legalized in June.
The question of divorce vs. dissolution of a domestic partnership aside, it appears that the main issue of contention in the case is whether Lynch’s wife is entitled to alimony, which is called spousal support in California. She is also seeking to have Lynch pay her legal fees. According to the celebrity website TMZ, the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement.
In Lynch’s dissolution filing, she asked the court to deny any claim for alimony. California law differs from that of Massachusetts, especially after the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act went into effect last year. However, in Massachusetts, Lynch could not be required to pay general term alimony for longer than half the length of the three-year marriage.
The couple has no children together, and Lynch cited “irreconcilable differences” in her filing as the reason for the divorce. In an interview with Larry King, she said the pair will remain friends. "It's two people who decided it's better to go apart than stay together," she said.
- Huffington Post, "Jane Lynch Divorce: Estranged Wife, Dr. Lara Embry, Seeks Spousal Support," Bridget Mallon, Aug. 26, 2013
- TMZ, "Jane Lynch Files for Divorce," July 12, 2013