The laws governing domestic partnerships differ between states. Please consult the laws of your state before seeking to dissolve your domestic partnership.
How do I end a domestic partnership?
The process for terminating a domestic partnership varies between states. In some jurisdictions, ending a domestic partnership is as simple as filing a Notice of Termination with the Secretary of State. In other jurisdictions, domestic partners must dissolve their relationship through divorce or annulment proceedings.
What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment?
Both divorce and annulment serve to terminate the domestic partnership. A divorce is a legal decree that ends the domestic partnership before the death of either partner. An annulment is a finding by a court that a domestic partnership is null and void. Annulments may only be obtained when a court determines that the domestic partnership is invalid. A domestic partnership is invalid if one partner is already married or in another domestic partnership at the time of the union, or if the domestic partnership resulted from force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity.
How does the dissolution of a marriage differ from the dissolution of a domestic partnership?
Residency requirements imposed on married couples at the time of dissolution may be different from those imposed on domestic partnerships. For example, California requires that married couples reside in the state for six months before they are eligible to file for divorce. California imposes no such residency requirement on domestic partners registered in the state. If a domestic partnership is registered in another state, California will terminate the union so long as one party is living in California on the date of dissolution. Additionally, because the federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships, the tax consequences of ending a domestic partnership differ from the tax consequences of ending a marriage. For example, partner support, unlike spousal support, need not be included on the receiving partner's federal tax return and may not be taken as a deduction by the partner making the support payments.
What happens when I end my domestic partnership?
During termination proceedings, the court may divide the couple's assets, award child custody, and order one partner to pay child support or alimony to the other partner. Once the domestic partnership is dissolved, the parties are free to marry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person.
Do I need to provide notice to anyone when I end my domestic partnership?
Yes. If you or your partner are receiving benefits by virtue of the domestic partnership, you are obligated to inform the benefit-provider that the domestic partnership has been terminated. If you fail to notify an employer or other benefit-provider of the status of your partnership, you may be sued civilly to recover damages for benefits paid after the date of termination.
Do I need a lawyer to end a domestic partnership?
Legal representation is not necessary to end a domestic partnership. However, because laws regarding domestic partnerships are relatively new and uncertain, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable in this area and can inform you of your rights and obligations.