How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership in California
Those of a certain generation may recall Woody Allen’s famous line in his Oscar-winning film Annie Hall: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”
The “dead shark” phenomenon can happen to any relationship, of course, including those within a domestic partnership. Ending a domestic partnership in California, however, has some specific requirements of which those wishing to terminate their legal bond should be aware.
Whether between a man and a woman or a same-sex couple, a domestic partnership can be ended in two ways. The first is by a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership filed with the California Secretary of State. The second is through the Superior Court. Both of these options are fraught with their own potential pitfalls, not least of which because not every domestic partnership termination is eligible to be filed with the Secretary of State. To qualify couples interested in this route, the office of the California Secretary of State provides a 13-point checklist with such questions as whether or not children were born, will be born or were adopted during the course of the relationship. Likewise, the form asks how much debt was mutually accrued (it can’t exceed more than $6,000) and how much community property is owned (must be less than $38,000).
Clearly, it gets complicated quickly, which is why many of these types of separations often end up in California Superior Court. This could be a good thing as it gives you the right to a court hearing in front of a judge. When filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership, there is no hearing. Moreover, you forfeit the ability to have a new hearing or the right to appeal whatever decision is rendered to a higher court. In court, however, you also have the right to an attorney. This is where we can help expedite an amicable end to your domestic partnership and navigate you to a satisfactory settlement. Then, no longer burdened by the “dead shark,” you are legally free to pursue the other fish in the sea.