Ending a domestic partnership is sometimes easy and in other cases resembles getting divorced. The specific procedures vary from place to place, and are usually set forth in the law that created the status of domestic partners. If a couple has entered into a written domestic partnership agreement, the document may outline additional steps that need to be followed in terminating the domestic partnership.
Ending a Domestic Partnership: Expedited Processes
As often happens with marriages, domestic partners may develop irreconcilable differences and go their separate ways. If you're splitting up with your domestic partner, many jurisdictions make it simple and quick to dissolve the legal relationship.
In New York City, a couple may terminate a domestic partnership by filing a form and paying a small fee. However, this procedure doesn't resolve any child custody, property, or other issues resulting from the breakup. The same is true in other places such as Orlando, Florida and Boulder, Colorado, for instance.
In California, partners may terminate a domestic partnership through an expedited procedure as long as the choice to break up is mutual, the couple has been registered as domestic partners for five years or less, there are no children involved, and the couple's financial assets and debts fall below certain dollar thresholds, among other things.
Ending a Domestic Partnership: Complexities
Winding down a domestic partnership will be more complex if you and your domestic partner have children or have accumulated substantial assets or debts.
In California, breakups that do not qualify for an expedited procedure must be initiated by filing a petition with a California Superior Court. The termination of the domestic partnership will then unfold in much the same way as a divorce proceeding. California authorizes one partner to be ordered to provide financial support to the other.
In jurisdictions that allow domestic partnerships to be dissolved simply by filing a form and paying a nominal fee, it still may be necessary to commence other types of legal proceedings to resolve child custody, property, or other issues.
Some Additional Considerations
A number of jurisdictions phased out their domestic partnership laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2015 decision holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Lawmakers in these places concluded that domestic partnerships were no longer needed once same-sex couples could legally marry -- even though the repeal of the laws also impacted opposite-sex couples who had entered into domestic partnerships, for one thing.
Several states, including Washington, passed laws around this time that automatically converted most domestic partnerships into marriages unless the couple quickly filed paperwork to dissolve their domestic partnership.
Despite these changes, many jurisdictions still retain domestic partnership as a legal status. In some places, including California, 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, or substantial financial assets or debt. To ensure the best possible outcome, you may wish to speak with an experienced family law attorney in your area who has handled domestic partnership cases.