This article is a general guideline for how to dissolve a domestic partnership. If a domestic partnership is recognized in your state, the state will have more specific guidelines to follow.
You can find those guidelines on either your state’s family court website or your local city court website.
When terminating or dissolving a domestic partnership you will both sign a statement of termination or notice of termination. Doing so will end the domestic partnership and return each of you to a legal status of “single.”
Once this is done the partnership will no longer have the rights, protections, and benefits, or obligations and responsibilities under the law as a registered domestic partnership. Termination of the domestic partnership is not the same as divorce. If the two of you took advantage of laws that allowed you to marry, you will have to go through the legal divorce process.
How is property divided when couples dissolve a domestic partnership?
How property is divided will depend on whether or not you live in a community property state or equitable distribution state.
If you live in a community property state everything the two of you acquired during the partnership, which – includes earnings and anything purchased with those earnings – will be split 50/50. That is unless a prenup or written property settlement agreement was drawn up at the beginning of the partnership clearly stating each partner’s property rights should there be a termination.
If you live in an equitable distribution state property will be divided in a fair and “equitable” manner unless your state has no statutory requirement that the Court grant a domestic partner with equitable distribution.
In either a community property or equitable distribution state the court shall, upon petition of one or the other party to the partnership:
- Assign to each party his or her sole and separate property acquired prior to the domestic partnership, and his or her sole and separate property acquired during the domestic partnership by gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and any increase thereof, or property acquired in exchange therefor; and
- Value and distribute all other property and debt accumulated during the domestic partnership that has not been addressed in a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or a decree of legal separation.
- The duration of the domestic partnership.
- The age, health, occupation, amount, and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, assets, debts, and needs of each of the parties.
- Provisions for the custody of minor children.
- Whether the distribution is in lieu of or in addition to alimony.
- Each party’s obligation from a prior domestic partnership, or for other children.
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of assets and income.
- Each party’s contribution as a homemaker or otherwise to the family unit.
- Each party’s contribution to the education of the other party which enhanced the other party’s earning ability.
- Each party’s increase or decrease in income as a result of the domestic partnership, or duties of homemaking and childcare.
- Each party’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, appreciation, dissipation, or depreciation in value of the assets which are subject to distribution and whether the asset was acquired or the debt incurred after separation.
- The effects of taxation on the value of the assets subject to distribution.
- The circumstances which contributed to the estrangement of the parties.
How Long Does it Take to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership?
Once you have started the process it will take at least six months before the court will enter a judgment in a petition for dissolution of a domestic partnership. In some cases, it can take longer. How long it takes depends on your individual situation, how well you and your partner cooperate during the dissolution process and the number of assets and difficulty of splitting those assets.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Whether you are ending a marriage or planning to dissolve a domestic partnership, it is always a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney who is familiar with family law in your state. An attorney can explain your rights under the laws of your state. An attorney can also represent you in court should there be issues surrounding property distribution or child custody.