How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership in California
A domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two individuals who share a domestic life together but are not married. In California, domestic partnerships offer many of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, including property rights, healthcare decision-making, and child custody. However, there may come a time when a domestic partnership needs to be dissolved. This article will guide you through the process of dissolving a domestic partnership in California, including important steps and considerations. Additionally, a FAQ section at the end will address common questions related to this topic.
Step 1: Eligibility for Dissolution
Before proceeding with the dissolution process, it is crucial to determine whether you are eligible. In California, you can dissolve a domestic partnership if:
1. Both parties are at least 18 years old, or have obtained a court order for an exception.
2. Both parties are currently registered as domestic partners in California.
3. Either party has been a resident of California for at least six months before filing for dissolution.
Step 2: Filing the Petition
To initiate the dissolution process, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the county clerk’s office. The petition should include essential information such as the date of the domestic partnership, the grounds for dissolution, and any requests for child custody, support, or property division.
Step 3: Serving the Petition
After filing the petition, you must serve a copy to your partner. This can be done by a third-party adult or through a process server. Proof of service must then be filed with the court.
Step 4: Responding to the Petition
Once served with the petition, your partner has a specific period to respond. If they fail to respond within the given time frame, you may request a default judgment. However, if your partner responds, both parties will proceed to the next steps.
Step 5: Negotiating Settlements
If both parties are open to negotiation and can agree on issues such as property division, child custody, and support, it is advisable to draft a settlement agreement. This agreement should be reviewed by an attorney to ensure it meets all legal requirements.
Step 6: Finalizing the Dissolution
To finalize the dissolution, you must submit a Judgment of Dissolution and other necessary documents to the court. Once reviewed and approved, the court will issue a final judgment, officially dissolving the domestic partnership.
Q: What are the grounds for dissolution of domestic partnership in California?
A: California is a no-fault state when it comes to dissolving domestic partnerships. This means that neither party needs to prove fault or wrongdoing for the dissolution to be granted. Simply stating that the partnership is irretrievably broken is sufficient.
Q: How long does the dissolution process take?
A: The duration of the dissolution process can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of issues, the court’s caseload, and the level of cooperation between the parties. On average, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to finalize a domestic partnership dissolution.
Q: What happens to shared property and assets?
A: In California, domestic partners have the same rights and obligations as married couples when it comes to property division. The court will consider various factors, such as the length of the partnership, financial contributions, and the best interests of any children involved, to determine a fair division of shared property and assets.
Q: Can child custody and support be requested during the dissolution process?
A: Yes, child custody and support can be requested during the dissolution process. The court will evaluate the best interests of the child and may order joint or sole custody, visitation rights, and appropriate child support based on the circumstances of the case.
Q: Can a domestic partnership be converted into a marriage?
A: Yes, California allows domestic partnerships to be converted into marriages. If both parties wish to convert their domestic partnership, they can do so by filing a form with the California Secretary of State. Once converted, the rights and responsibilities of the partnership will be treated as those of a legal marriage.
In conclusion, dissolving a domestic partnership in California requires following specific steps and adhering to legal requirements. It is essential to consult with an attorney experienced in family law to ensure that the process is carried out smoothly and that your rights and interests are protected throughout the dissolution process.