Dissolution of Domestic Partnership FAQ: Can I file for dissolution of domestic partnership - We did not register our partnership with the state of California.
Can I File for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership in California?
California does allow those in a registered domestic partnership to file for dissolution, also known as divorce. Registered domestic partners may also file for a legal separation or an annulment in California. There is a simplified divorce process, called a summary dissolution, which is also available to registered domestic partners if they meet certain criteria.
However, registered domestic partners can run into some issues during any of these processes because the federal government in the United States does not recognize registered domestic partnerships for things like veterans benefits, immigration, Medicare, and more. Other states that do not recognize domestic partnerships may not recognize the court orders that come with a divorce, including those relating to the division of property or spousal support – which means they may be difficult to enforce.
What Are The Residency Requirements for the Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership in California?
There are different requirements for domestic partners to get a divorce in California than for married couples. The residency requirements can also vary depending on whether a domestic partnership is registered in California or not.
Domestic Partnerships Registered in California
If a couple has registered their domestic partnership in the State of California, they have already agreed to allow the California court system to make future decisions regarding their domestic partnership.
There are no residency requirements if the domestic partnership has been registered in California - the domestic partnership can be dissolved in California even if neither party has ever lived in the state.
So, even though married couples that were married in California need to meet residency requirements in order to divorce in California, registered domestic partners who have registered their domestic partnership in California do not have residency requirements in order to divorce in California.
Domestic Partnerships Not Registered in California
Those couples that are in a domestic partnership that was either registered outside of California or not registered, but not registered in the state of California need to meet the residency requirements for dissolution in California.
This means that one party to the partnership must meet the following requirements.
• One of the partners must have lived in California for at least the last six months, and
• One of the partners must have lived in the county where the dissolution is filed for at least the last three months.
Same Sex Marriages in California
If you have both a registered domestic partnership AND a same sex marriage, in order to dissolve both in California, you need to meet the residency requirements for both.
Those in a same sex marriage must meet the following residency requirements in order to dissolve the marriage in California.
• One spouse must have lived in the State of California for the last six months, and
• One spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce will be filed for at least the last three months.
If you are in a same sex marriage, you were married in the State of California, and you no longer live in California, you may only dissolve your marriage in the county where you were married in California, and only if you currently reside in a state that does not recognize or dissolve same sex marriages.
However, there are potential downsides to dissolving a same sex marriage or a registered domestic partnership in California without living in the state.
What Are Potential Downsides to Dissolving a Domestic Partnership in California?
Regardless of the residency requirements listed above, if possible, it is best to dissolve your registered domestic partnership in the state where you and your partner live. This is because due to jurisdictional laws, it may be hard to enforce court orders like those that divide property and debt, determine spousal or partner support, or make decisions regarding the financial support of children or the terms of the child custody and visitation agreement.
This is why residency requirements exist - so that the orders made in a dissolution can be enforced and have a positive effect on the lives of those involved.
In some cases, it is not possible to dissolve a registered domestic partnership in the state where it was registered - and filing for a dissolution in California is the best option. This is why there are exceptions to the law, and why working with a skilled attorney who has experience in the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships can help. Discuss the possibility of facing difficulties in the enforcement of your divorce orders with a lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand what resources are available to you and how you can use them to your advantage.
How Do I File for a Dissolution of a Registered Domestic Partnership in California?
Do I Qualify for a Summary Dissolution?
Before you file for a dissolution in California, you’ll want to discuss the option of filing for a summary dissolution. It is a much simpler, faster, and less expensive process that is available to those filing for divorce in California.
To qualify for a summary dissolution for a registered domestic partnership in California, both partners must meet the following requirements.
• Both partners must want to dissolve the domestic partnership;
• The domestic partnership cannot have been registered for more than five years as of the date of filing for the dissolution;
• The parties cannot have any children together, whether born or adopted either prior to or during the registered domestic partnership;
• Neither party may be pregnant at the time of filing for the dissolution;
• Neither partner can own any portion of land or of buildings;
• Neither party can rent any portion of land or buildings, with the exception of where they currently live;
• The partners cannot owe more than $6000 in debts that have been acquired since the date of the registration of the domestic partnership, not including car loans;
• The partners must have less than $40,000 worth of property that has been acquired since the domestic partnership was registered, not including vehicles;
• Neither partner can have separate property worth more than $40,000, not including vehicles;
• Both parties must agree to forego partner support;
• Both partners must have signed an agreement regarding the division of assets, property and debts, including vehicles. This means that the court does not need to divide any community property for the couple in the dissolution.
The Process Of Filing For Summary Dissolution or Divorce in California
Both processes, that for the dissolution of a registered domestic partnership and that for a summary dissolution, are slightly different. Either one can benefit from the help of a qualified divorce attorney in California.
If you are divorcing due to domestic violence in your domestic partnership, do not go through the process alone. If you are currently safe, make sure that you and your children have safe and reliable places to stay from the time that you file to dissolve your registered domestic partnership until it can be finalized. If you need assistance, contact the police, your local family law facilitator, and/or a qualified attorney in your area.
The most important aspect of your situation is your safety and the safety of your children.
Determining the Terms of the Divorce
During any divorce or dissolution in California, you will need to determine the terms of your divorce. This means that you will need to figure out how to divide property and debts, you’ll need to determine spousal support, including who will pay and how much, you will need to determine a child custody and visitation agreement, and you will need to determine who will pay child support and how much will be paid.
An attorney in California can help you with this, but you have several options regarding the determination of your court orders. You do not need to let the court determine these things for you; if you wish to, you can choose to set these terms on your own outside of court and then submit them to the judge for approval.
Discuss your options with your lawyer. You may choose to use a form of alternative dispute resolution, which allows you and your partner to work through your issues together, outside of the courtroom, and with the help of either your attorneys or a third party mediator who understands both the law regarding your case and how to facilitate a healthy and productive discussion between you and your partner.
Hiring a Quality Divorce Attorney in California
If you are ready to discuss your dissolution with an attorney, or if you have questions about filing for divorce when you are in a registered domestic partnership in California, you should contact an Orange County divorce lawyer as soon as possible. At Yanez & Associates, we believe that it is important to get to know an attorney prior to hiring him or her. We offer free initial consultations so that you can get to know us, and we can get to know your case. Contact us today to schedule yours.