Ending a Domestic Partnership

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A. Termination of domestic partnership

A registered domestic partnership can be ended by by filing a legal Petition for Termination with the Superior Court. In very limited circumstances, and if specific legal conditions are met (including no children, no support issues, no joint debts, and few assets), a domestic partnership that is less than 5 years old can instead be terminated by filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State.

Termination ends the the registered domestic partnership and returns the partners to their single status. Termination in the Superior Court involves one or more hearings before a judge, an appealable decision, and possible review by the Court of Appeal if one or both of the parties file a brief arguing that there is inadequate legal support for the Superior Court’s decision. The Superior Court’s decision divides the community property, decides child custody and visitation, and frequently, awards domestic partner support and/or child support.

However, no hearing is held when a domestic partnership is terminated by a notice filed with the CA Secretary of State. Assets then must be divided by agreement. Under some circumstances, a domestic partnership that has been terminated by Notice can be reversed. However, reversal is not an easy process; it requires a court hearing and is only permitted for limited reasons.

When many assets are at stake, financial issues may pose special difficulties in terminating a domestic partnership. At Minella Law Group, we will work to secure your best interest in resolving these issues, which may include:

  1. Divisions or buy-outs of interests in family businesses
  2. Complex valuation issues, and
  3. Issues relating to retirement benefits, stocks and bonds, social security, and health insurance

In this difficult and important process, Minella Law Group’s attorneys will support you and work to protect your personal and financial well-being through diligent investigation, careful analysis, and experienced advocacy.

B. Petition for judgment of nullity of domestic partnership

A Petition for Judgment of Nullity of Domestic Partnership can be filed with the Superior Court in very narrow circumstances – for example, if one partner finds out the other partner is still legally married to another person. The process of seeking a Judgment of Nullity is similar to seeking an annulment of a marriage.

A Judgment of Nullity of Domestic Partnership issued by the Superior Court declares a domestic partnership to be invalid. It returns both partners to their single status, makes custody and support determinations, and divides their property. The way property is divided in a nullity proceeding is very different from how property is divided in a domestic partnership dissolution. At Minella Law Group, we will review your circumstances carefully and advise you as to whether a Petition for Judgment of Nullity is an option in your situation, and, if so, the benefits and drawbacks of choosing that option rather than a Petition for Dissolution for ending your California Domestic Partnership.