Category Archives: Same Sex Marriage and Divorce

What’s the Easiest Way to Dissolve my Domestic Partnership

What’s the Easiest Way to Dissolve my Domestic Partnership

On the eve of their third anniversary, Dwight and Angelo decided their domestic partnership just wasn’t working anymore. They both worried that terminating their relationship could be expensive and stressful. But they also felt it was the right thing to do and hoped to move quickly. They began to explore their options. It looked like the easiest way to dissolve their domestic partnership might be through something called summary dissolution.

Ending a Domestic Partnership

Domestic partnerships and marriages end through ‘dissolution.’ It’s just usually called a ‘divorce,’ especially with married couples.

Summary dissolution offers couples an easier, shorter way to terminate their relationship. The catch is that the couple must qualify by meeting all of a long list of requirements. For purposes of this article, we are splitting that list into requirements related to the relationship and those related to the couple’s property.

Relationship-Related Requirements for Summary Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership

Couples seeking summary dissolution must meet the following requirements:

  • Both partners must agree to the dissolution. In fact, the parties must complete a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership form, sign it before a notary public, and file it with the court.
  • The domestic partnership must have been registered for 5 years or less.
  • No children were born or adopted by the couple before or during the domestic partnership.
  • Neither partner is pregnant.

People who do not meet these criteria will have to seek a more traditional divorce.

Property-Related Requirements to Meet Before Trying for Summary Dissolution

Whether filing for divorce or applying for a summary dissolution, we strongly encourage you to discuss property division with an attorney. That’s because this part of a summary dissolution or divorce can be very complicated.

However, couples that want to terminate their partnership must meet the following criteria:

  • They can’t own any land or buildings.
  • The couple also cannot be renting any land or buildings except for their home. But you also cannot have a one-year lease or option to buy a particular property.
  • For summary dissolution, couples cannot have acquired more than $6,000 in debts since the date of their domestic partnership. This does not include auto loans.
  • The couple cannot have acquired more than $45,000 in property during the domestic partnership, excluding cars.
  • Neither party wants support from the other.

Finally, the couple must have signed an agreement that:

  • Divides property and debts, or
  • States that they do not have community property or debts.

Although summary dissolution of a domestic partnership is easier than divorce, not everyone qualifies. To discuss your options, please call today.

We Can Help Dissolve Your Domestic Partnership

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Establishing Parental Rights in a Same-Sex Marriage

Establishing Parental Rights in a Same-Sex Marriage

Children need their parents, even after a divorce. That’s why California courts focus so much on doing what is in the child’s best interest when deciding on child support and visitation issues. Another important and basic issue that pops up in many divorces involving children – parental rights. It’s not always an easy situation for the parents or their children. With the rise of legal same-sex marriages, establishing parental rights became a little more challenging for some couples.

Opposite-Sex Couples and Parenthood

Before same-sex marriage became legal, establishing parental rights usually meant proving the father’s identity. This step is usually easy for married couples because the law generally assumes that the mother’s husband is the baby’s father. When there is uncertainty, however, an opposite-sex couple can establish fatherhood through:

  • Testing,
  • Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity,
  • Obtaining a court order.

In the past, same-sex parents sometimes found it difficult for both partners to be accepted as a child’s legal parent.

California Law and Presumed Parents

Generally, one spouse is presumably the parent of the other spouse’s child under the following conditions:

  • He or she was married to the child’s mother when the child was conceived or born.
  • The presumed parent attempted to marry the child’s mother or was engaged in a marriage later deemed invalid when the child was conceived or born.
  • They married the mom after the child was born and agreed to be added to the birth certificate or to support the mom’s child.
  • One spouse treats the other spouse’s child as his or her child.

These legal presumptions apply to all married couples and people who registered a domestic partnership after January 2005. Couples in same-sex marriages have the same right to be a presumed parent under the conditions mentioned above.

Potential Roadblocks to Establishing Parental Rights

In marriages where the spouses are of the same sex, they might become parents through:

  • In vitro fertilization,
  • Using a surrogate mother, or

In the past, the spouse that gave birth to a child was considered the child’s parent. The same-sex partner did not automatically get parental rights. Instead, they would have to adopt the child their partner gave birth to, even though they acted as the child’s parent. Without the right legal framework, partners could be denied access, visitation, or custody to the child they had raised from birth.

Using the assumptions that California law allows, it would appear that same-sex couples would both have parental rights, regardless of the biological origin of their children or whether one gives birth. However, other states and countries may not recognize parenthood given the same set of circumstances.  It may be best to err on the side of caution. After all, you want to make sure your parent-child bond stands up in court if necessary.

Call to Learn More About Establishing Parental Rights in a Same-Sex Marriage.

Establishing parental rights is best done well before a breakup. Most people can save time, money, and some serious angst by ensuring both halves of a same-sex marriage are considered parents of any children born during the marriage.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Are California Registered Domestic Partnerships Reserved for Same-Sex Couples

Are California Registered Domestic Partnerships Reserved for Same-Sex Couples?

One day, Luisa received an announcement that her friends, Donnie and Melissa, had decided to register their domestic partnership. As Luisa celebrated with her friends, she was a little puzzled. She and most of her friends thought that California registered domestic partnerships were only for same-sex couples. 

History of California Registered Domestic Partnerships

Until 1999, same-sex couples really did not have the same rights and benefits that opposite-sex couples enjoyed. However, California enacted a law that allowed gay couples to register as a California domestic partnership. Doing so meant that the parties:

“have same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law …”

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2013, same-sex marriages were legal in all 50 states. California began recognizing both same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships. However, registration was limited to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples where at least one partner was over 62.

Then, in 2019, the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 was amended. Now, California registered domestic partnerships are available to all couples over the age of 18, regardless of sexual orientation.

Qualifying for Registration

California law defines domestic partners as: “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” However, it takes more than love to qualify for a California registered domestic partnership. There are still legal requirements to meet when registering, including:

  • Neither person is married or part of a current domestic relationship;
  • The parties to the partnership are not related by blood in any way that prevents them from marrying under California law;
  • Both parties are over age 18 (although there are exceptions); and
  • Both parties are capable of consenting to the registered domestic partnership.

Previously, opposite-sex couples were prohibited from being recognized as California registered domestic partnerships. However, the new law allowing them to register took effect on January 1, 2020.

California Registered Domestic Partnerships for Couples

Sometimes couples do not want to go through with a traditional wedding or be considered a married couple. It’s important to consider all the options when choosing a domestic partnership over being married. For example, federal law generally does not recognize domestic partnerships, so taxes and benefits can be challenging.

However, some couples benefit from choosing the registered domestic partnership route. For instance, a widow might lose benefits upon remarriage that are not changed by a domestic partnership.

So, to answer Luisa’s concerns:  Yes, opposite-sex couples can choose to be domestic partners instead of a married couple.

Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

how can i terminate a domestic partnership

How Can I Terminate a Domestic Partnership?

Relationships can get messy. Alexis and Callie found this out as soon as Callie started planning their wedding ceremony four years into their registered domestic partnership. The stress triggered negative feelings, and Alexis started reconsidering their relationship. Unfortunately, the situation ended with one partner picking out a wedding cake and the other trying to figure out how to terminate a domestic partnership. Continue reading

Summary Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership

Summary Dissolution of a Domestic Partnership

As Drake and Dwight’s relationship grew stronger, they decided to register their domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State’s office. However, they then separated four years later. They didn’t know whether you could formally dissolve a domestic partnership but soon learned that divorce is possible. In fact, there are several forms of divorce available including something called ‘summary dissolution.’ Sometimes summary dissolution of a domestic partnership is the best option for everyone.
Continue reading

3 Important Facts About Same-Sex Marriage

3 Important Facts About Same-Sex Marriage

Chris and Taylor lived together for ten years before they registered as a domestic partnership in California. Three years later, they married in a formal wedding ceremony surrounded by friends and family in Massachusetts. When their relationship fell apart two years later, they learned that they didn’t know as much about the legal aspects of same-sex marriage as they had thought.

You can be married and registered domestic partners.

Chris and Taylor registered as domestic partners before same-sex marriage became legal. Their status gave them some important benefits and rights.

In 2015, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. States were now required to recognize same-sex marriages validly made in another state. This opened the door for many same-sex couples – including Chris and Taylor – to join the ranks of opposite-sex married couples. Being legally married can be especially helpful because not all states recognize registered domestic partnerships.

Years spent living together before marriage may not count.

In California, marriages over ten years are often given special treatment. For example, awards of spousal support may be more liberal.

In some states, a couple who live together for a certain number of years is considered a married couple. California does not recognize most common-law marriages. If a couple lives together long enough to be considered a common-law couple in another state, California may recognize their time together if the couple divorce in California.

For example, the ten years Chris and Taylor lived together before registering their domestic partnership may be ignored when they divorce. In the eyes of the law, the couple’s marriage only lasted for two years.

This type of situation is incredibly complicated. Discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.

You may divorce in California if married in California

A couple that legally entered into a same-sex marriage in California can now file for divorce no matter where they live at the time of the divorce. Here’s where Obergefell v. Hodges affects same-sex marriage and same-sex divorce. Since states are now required to recognize lawful same-sex marriages made in another state, they must also allow same-sex partners to divorce.

Same-Sex Marriage Issues Are Complicated

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings, including same-sex divorces and dissolution of domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.

Terminating a California Registered Domestic Partnership

Terminating a California Registered Domestic Partnership

The day Cody and Charles registered their domestic partnership was one of the happiest days of their lives. However, their relationship cooled over the years. Finally, they started doing online research about terminating a California registered domestic partnership. The more they learned, the more Cody and Charles felt this was the right path for them. They just had to follow the right procedures under California law.

Registered Domestic Partnerships Under California Law

In 2003, the California legislature passed a law that gave a registered domestic partnership the same legal rights and responsibilities as a married couple. Such rights include the right to terminate the legal relationship.

Forming the Registered Domestic Partnership

Adults in a committed relationship may file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. They must be:
  • Unmarried and not part of another registered domestic partnership;
  • Unrelated by blood;
  • At least 18 years of age, in most circumstances;
  • Either both members of the same sex or an opposite-sex couple where one or both are over 62 years of age; and
  • Both consenting to the domestic partnership.
At times, one or both members of a partnership may look for a way out.

Ending the Registered Domestic Partnership

There are two basic ways to go about terminating a California registered domestic partnership – an easy way and a slightly more difficult way. The easiest way to dissolve a registered domestic partnership is to file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State’s Office. The parties must meet the following conditions:
  • Both have signed the Notice of Termination.
  • They cannot have had children during the partnership, and neither party can be pregnant.
  • Their partnership must have existed for less than five years.
  • They cannot own any real property,
  • Their unpaid debts fall below the limit set by state law.
  • The parties have agreed on a division of assets and debt.
  • They have waived financial support.
Sometimes couples are not eligible to dissolve their partnership through a Notice of Termination. If so, one person will file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with an appropriate court. The ensuing process is similar to a divorce proceeding. The court may grant a termination of the registered domestic partnership after the couple has worked out issues related to their relationship, including property division and spousal support.

Final Thoughts

If you want to terminate your registered domestic partnership, discuss your options with an experienced California divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with divorce matters in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Getting Spousal Support in a Registered Domestic Partnership

Getting Spousal Support in a Registered Domestic Partnership

Ending a long-term or very close relationship is never easy. Spousal support is one sometimes hotly contested issue in a divorce. If spousal support is appropriate, then how much should be paid? This holds true for registered domestic partnerships, too. Partners embroiled in a breakup may also be facing spousal support questions.

How is a domestic partnership registered in California?

Couples who want to have an opposite-sex marriage must get a marriage license from the County Clerk’s office. Same-sex couples, and certain opposite-sex couples, do not buy a license to memorialize their relationship. Instead, they file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State’s office. California Family Code Section 297 outlines the requirements for couples who form a domestic partnership.

To terminate or dissolve a registered domestic partnership, the partners may file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership, also with the Secretary of State. Requirements for termination are laid out in California Family Code Section 299.

Can you get spousal support in a registered domestic partnership?

Filing the Notice under Section 299 means that both parties waive their rights to spousal support. To claim support, partnership typically must file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the California Superior Court.

Parties who file a Notice of Termination do not go through court hearings or mediation. When filing a Petition for Dissolution, however, the parties may attend hearings and ask a judge for temporary orders. Support is one issue that will be addressed by the court.

What does a partner need to do to get spousal support?

As noted above, the first step is to file the Petition for Dissolution. After that, the dissolution proceeds similar to a divorce. The partners will negotiate an agreement on community property and debt, arrive at child custody and support arrangements if necessary, and come to an agreement about support. If the partners are unable to do this through negotiation or mediation, their case may be heard by a judge, who will then issue an order about these issues.

Make sure you get the support you deserve.

Please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients with dissolution of marriages and domestic partnerships from our offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.

Are Domestic Partnerships Registered in California?

Are Domestic Partnerships Registered in California?

Sam and Chris have a committed relationship that does not include a formal same-sex marriage. Jon and Julia have lived together for several years. Both aged 65, they don’t want to get married, but they do want some of the tax and financial benefits a marriage offers. Each couple may consider forming a domestic partnership but wonder whether California has a registration process for this type of bond.

What is a domestic partnership?

According to California Family Code Section 297:

Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.

A domestic partnership is a legally-recognized relationship between two individuals. California Family Code states that a domestic partnership is formed when both people file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. At the time of filing, the couple have to meet certain criteria.

Who can form a domestic partnership?

The domestic partners must:

  • Not be married or partners with another person.
  • Be at least 18 years of age, unless parents or guardians agree to the partnership.
  • Either members of the same sex or same sex if at least one of the partners is over 62 years old.

Does California require domestic partnerships to register?

No. The law says that partners may register their domestic partnership with the state.

However, registering gives the domestic partners the same benefits, rights, and protections that other California married couples enjoy.

What’s the process for registering a California domestic partnership?

The California Secretary of State’s Office accepts and processes Declarations of Domestic Partnership and related documents.

Couples that meet the legal requirements may register by filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1). California also allows to keep their relationship private by completing a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-1A).

Have more questions about domestic partnership registration in California?

Talk to a California family law attorney to learn more about your options.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.