California provides the option for same-sex couples and some opposite-sex couples to enter into a legal agreement with one another known as a domestic partnership. Those in domestic partnerships are offered many of the rights as married spouses, and can even be seen as equivalent to civil unions in other states. Domestic partnerships are not recognized under federal law, and may not be counted as valid at all if the couple travels outside of the United States. Even so, a couple that is in a domestic partnership must dissolve the partnership similarly to a traditional divorce if they seek to get out of the legal partnership.
Do you qualify for a summary dissolution?
There are two options to end a domestic partnership. A couple can choose to get a standard divorce or they can file for a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution is a quick, easy way to dissolve a partnership, but it is not available to every couple.
A couple can qualify for a summary dissolution if both parties:
- Want to end the domestic partnership
- Have been in a registered domestic partnership for less than 5 years
- Have no children born or adopted before or during the partnership
- Do not own land or buildings
- Do not rent any land or buildings
- Do not owe more than $6,000 in debts since entering into the partnership, with the exception of car loans
- Have less than $30,000 worth of acquired property during the partnership, with the exception of cars
- Do not have separate property valued at more than $30,000
- Agree that no spousal support is required
- Signed an agreement detailing property division
Should a couple choose to end their relationship by summary dissolution, they must fill out a Notice of Termination and file this document with the California Secretary of State. The property agreement signed by both spouses must also be filed. After six months, the domestic partnership will be terminated. Both parties are free to enter into other marriages or domestic partnerships at this time.
While a dissolution of marriage does not require an attorney, it is always in a couple's best interests to consult with a lawyer whenever making a serious legal decision, such as ending a partnership or dividing property. If you are in a domestic partnership and think a dissolution is right for you, contact the attorneys at Cutter & Lax before making any final decisions to end your legal arrangement.