How to Terminate Domestic Partnership in California

How to Terminate Domestic Partnership in California

In California, domestic partnerships are legal unions between two individuals who choose not to marry but want to establish a legal relationship. Just like a marriage, domestic partnerships can be terminated if the partners decide to end the relationship. If you have found yourself in this situation, it is essential to understand the process and requirements for terminating a domestic partnership in California. This article will guide you through the steps involved and answer frequently asked questions related to this process.

Termination Requirements

To terminate a domestic partnership in California, certain requirements must be met. These include:

1. Residency Requirements: At least one of the partners must have lived in California for a minimum of six months and in the county where the termination is filed for at least three months.

2. Filing of a Petition: The partners must file a petition for the termination of their domestic partnership in the Superior Court of California. This petition initiates the legal process and allows the court to dissolve the partnership.

3. Grounds for Termination: California is a “no-fault” state, meaning that neither partner needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to terminate a domestic partnership. The only requirement is that the partners have irreconcilable differences, leading to the irremediable breakdown of the partnership.

4. Legal Separation: Before filing for termination, the partners must be living separately or have a court-ordered legal separation. This separation requirement ensures that there is no possibility of reconciliation and provides an opportunity for partners to address financial and custody matters.

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5. Division of Assets and Debts: Just like in a divorce, the partners must divide their assets and debts. It is crucial to reach an agreement on property division, child custody (if applicable), spousal support, and any other financial matters. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide on these issues.

Steps to Terminate a Domestic Partnership

Now that the requirements are clear, let’s go through the steps involved in terminating a domestic partnership in California:

1. Filing the Petition: The first step is to file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the Superior Court in the county where you or your partner resides. Make sure to complete all required forms accurately and pay the necessary filing fees.

2. Serve the Petition: After filing, you must serve a copy of the petition and summons to your partner. This can be done by hiring a process server or requesting assistance from the sheriff’s office. It is important to provide proof of service to the court.

3. Responding to the Petition: The responding partner must file a Response to the Petition within 30 days of being served. This response acknowledges the receipt of the petition and provides the opportunity to address any disagreements or requests for relief.

4. Negotiate Settlement or Mediation: Both partners should attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement that addresses property division, child custody, support, and any other relevant matters. Mediation can be helpful in resolving disputes and reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

5. Court Hearing: If an agreement is reached, the partners can submit a written settlement agreement to the court, requesting a hearing to finalize the termination. During the hearing, the judge will review the agreement and, if approved, issue a judgment officially terminating the domestic partnership.

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6. Finalizing the Termination: After the court hearing, the judgment will be entered into the court records, officially terminating the domestic partnership. It is essential to obtain a certified copy of the judgment for your records and to update any relevant documents, such as insurance policies or beneficiary designations.


Q: Can I terminate a domestic partnership without going to court?
A: No, terminating a domestic partnership in California requires filing a petition with the court and obtaining a judgment to formalize the termination.

Q: How long does it take to terminate a domestic partnership?
A: The timeline can vary depending on the complexity of the issues and the court’s availability. Generally, it can take several months to complete the process.

Q: Do I need an attorney to terminate a domestic partnership?
A: While not required, consulting with an attorney can provide valuable guidance throughout the process, especially when dealing with complex legal issues or disputes.

Q: Can I terminate a domestic partnership if we have children?
A: Yes, the termination process will address child custody, visitation, and support matters to ensure the best interests of the children are considered.

Q: Can I terminate a domestic partnership if my partner is missing or refuses to participate?
A: Yes, you can still terminate the partnership by following the legal process, even if your partner is missing or unresponsive. The court will proceed with the termination based on the available information.


Terminating a domestic partnership in California involves meeting residency requirements, filing a petition, addressing legal separation, and dividing assets and debts. It is crucial to follow the necessary steps and consult with an attorney if needed. By understanding the process and requirements, you can navigate the termination process smoothly and ensure a fair resolution for both partners.

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