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Posted on Jan 13 on 2015

This being our first blog of the new year,  it seems appropriate to update our readers on changes to family law which took effect on January 1 of this year.  For 2015, the changes are few but still noteworthy.   The most noteworthy is the change of the legal definition of marriage in our state.  While the Family Code once reflected that a marriage was legally defined as a “personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman”, the legislature has now removed the gender-based definitions of the parties and change the statute to reflect “between two parties”.  Additionally, the gender-based references to the parties are removed in other sections of the Family Code as well.  Consistent with this change, the statute that addressed seeking a decrease in spousal support where the spouse receiving support was cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex has now been modified to reflect cohabitation with a “non-marital” partner, bringing into the court’s jurisdiction the ability of a party paying support to seek a reduction when the former spouse cohabits with someone of the same sex.   In regard to modification of support, the legislature has also reinstated the right of a party seeking to modify a divorce judgment to conduct discovery in support of their claim.  The statute overrules an appellate court decision from 2014 which held that there was no automatic right to conduct discovery in a proceeding initiated after the divorce judgment was entered.