Actress Jane Lynch who plays the feisty cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, on the hit show Glee, has said two-too many goodbyes in recent months after filing for divorce from her wife of three years, Lara Embry, and the shocking death of her co-star Cory Monteith.
Lynch and Embry were married in 2010 in Massachusetts and then filed for a domestic partnership in California, where at the time same-sex marriages were not recognized.
Although Lynch has a long resume of T.V. and film appearances, she catapulted to fame after joining the cast of Glee in 2009. Lynch, who has an estimated net worth of $5 million dollars, is alleged to rake in approximately $60,000 per episode (of Glee). For current purposes, it would be safe to assume that Lynch would likely be the payor of support. It is not surprising that she is contesting the California court's jurisdiction to award spousal support under the parties' domestic partnership.
Embry, who is a Clinical Psychologist, is likely making a comfortable salary. It therefore will be very interesting to see the court's take on her spousal support claim as the presumed lower income earner.
In Ontario, where same-sex marriages are recognized, spousal support is determined by the need of the recipient, among other things. The length of the marriage is also a relevant factor to consider. Therefore the fact that Lynch is the higher income earner does not create an automatic entitlement to support on Embry's part.
Where same-sex marriages are concerned, an uncomfortable yet relevant factor to consider, is how the parties will be divorced: at the time of separation, both parties are residing in a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The law often requires that at least one party resides in the jurisdiction whose law the party is trying to invoke. The practical effect is that parties could be prevented from making claims for spousal support or equalization, if they both reside in a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex unions.
A particularly interesting fact about the Lynch-Embry separation is that at the time of marriage, California did not recognize same-sex marriages, however after the recent Supreme Court decision to set aside Proposition 8, same-sex marriages are recognized in California. It will be very interesting to see how this case plays out. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on this one.