Ending a Domestic Partnership

Ending a domestic partnership is sometimes easy. In other cases, it can be complicated and resemble getting divorced. Legally terminating a domestic partnership involves a few key steps. 

The specific procedures vary from place to place. You must check with your Secretary of State's office to check your state's requirements.

This article provides a brief general overview for those considering ending their domestic partnership.

Ending a Domestic Partnership: Expedited Processes

As with married couples, domestic partners may develop irreconcilable differences. An annulment may be an option in some situations and some states. Many jurisdictions allow a simple process to undergo the termination of a domestic partnership.

In New York City, for example, a couple may terminate a domestic partnership by filing a form and paying a small fee. But this procedure doesn't resolve any child custody or child support issues. Property division is also not resolved. The same is true in other places such as Orlando, Florida, and Boulder, Colorado, for instance.

In California, partners may end a domestic partnership through an expedited procedure. This requires that the break up is mutual and that the couple has been registered for five years or less. There must not be children involved. There are also extra considerations.

Some states may impose restrictions on couples who terminate a domestic partnership. For example, the state of Georgia restricts a person who terminates a domestic partnership from entering into another domestic partnership within six months.

Issues With Ending a Domestic Partnership

Domestic partners can visit their city clerk's office to dissolve a domestic partnership. Couples might be able to file a form and pay a filing fee. In these jurisdictions, this filing fee is usually nominal. Winding down a registered domestic partnership will be more complex if you and your partner have children. It also may be more complex if you have accumulated substantial assets or debts together.

In California, breakups must be started by filing a petition. This petition should be filed with a California Superior Court. The process will then look similar to divorce proceedings. California authorizes one partner to be ordered to provide financial support to the other.

It may still be necessary to start other legal proceedings to resolve child custody, property, or other issues. Marriage and domestic partnerships have important differences when it comes to these issues. While registered domestic partners share a committed relationship, the legal aspects differ.

Without the benefits of marriage, domestic partners may face challenges. It is crucial to understand these distinctions before making decisions. Consider this before deciding about health insurance, social security, or property division.

Additional Considerations for Couples Considering Ending a Domestic Partnership

Several jurisdictions phased out their domestic partnership laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2015 decision. This decision held that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Lawmakers in these places concluded that domestic partnerships were no longer needed. However, the repeal also impacted opposite-sex couples in domestic partnerships.

Several states passed laws afterward that automatically converted most domestic partnerships into marriages. Despite these changes, many jurisdictions still retain domestic partnerships as a legal status. In some places, a couple can be in a domestic partnership and a marriage to each other simultaneously.

Get Legal Help With Ending Your Domestic Partnership

Ending a domestic partnership can be complicated, especially if it involves children, real estate, financial assets, or debt. You may wish to speak with an attorney to ensure the best possible outcome. Lawyers can give you valuable legal advice about the dissolution of a domestic partnership.

Lawyers can help deliver a notice of termination of a domestic partnership. They can help get a court order for spousal support. They can also help with legal separation and advise you on your protections. Attorneys can also assist with property division and represent you in court hearings.

Talk to an experienced family law attorney in your area today.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Property and financial issues in domestic partnerships can be challenging
  • Attorneys can draft a cohabitation agreement to solve any concerns
  • You may need legal help with property division and child custody

Get tailored advice about the domestic partnership laws in your state. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

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Don't Forget About Estate Planning

People in a domestic partnership should create or change their estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries (including your partner!) to your will. Consider creating a power of attorney to ensure your partner can access your financial accounts. Also, a health care directive lets your partner make your medical decisions if you ever become incapacitated.

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