Practice Areas

Domestic Partnership Lawyers in San Diego

California Domestic Partnerships

The concept of domestic partnerships is fairly new, a product of the rapid reexamination of social views on same-sex relationships that has been going on for the past several decades.  If you are considering a domestic partnership, contact a San Diego, CA based domestic partnership lawyer for a free legal consultation.

In 1999, the California legislature instituted the first domestic partner registry in the United States, first allowing unmarried domestic partners a limited number of rights which have been expanded until today domestic partners are able to enjoy the same legal benefits and duties as married spouses.

California has been on a roller coaster ride as far as same sex marriages are concerned, but today, gays and lesbians are able to marry in the state, reducing the significance of domestic partnerships going forward.

Rights and Benefits

Because domestic partnership is not marriage, people in the partnership are not married; it’s important to understand that domestic partners don’t automatically obtain right and benefits that depend on being a “spouse.” That means that the recent US Supreme Court decision overturning a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) did not make domestic partners eligible for federal benefits that apply to spouses.

Domestic Partnerships and Taxes

The IRS has issued a series of rulings on the impact that domestic partnership status on tax laws. Among other things, the IRS has ruled that:

  • Domestic partners can’t file as married (neither jointly nor separately)
  • Having a dependent domestic partner doesn’t make the taxpayer a head-of-household
  • A partner may use a different form of deductions (standard vs. itemized) than used by the taxpayer’s domestic partner
  • Only one of the domestic partners may claim a dependent child, not both

Terminating the Relationship

Domestic partnerships registered in California automatically grant California courts the authority to end that status, even if the partners no longer live in California or never lived in California. While the state can end the domestic partnership status, it may still not be able to issue enforceable orders that affect your rights in the other state, like child support, child custody, and property division.

California law allows two ways to dissolve a domestic partnership:

A Notice of Termination is quicker and easier. It is essentially an agreement between the partners that neither wishes to remain in the partnership and neither requires a settlement nor support from the other. There are a number of requirements, however, for this simplified form of partnership dissolution. It is a good idea to speak with a San Diego divorce attorney to determine if you qualify, because unless you meet every one of the requirements, the dissolution may not be valid.

A Petition of Dissolution filed with the Superior Court is very similar to a divorce. You will have the right to a court hearing in front of a judge, which can be appealed if either partner is not satisfied with the order.

When you file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership, there is no hearing or appeal.

If a same-sex California couple who were in a domestic partnership subsequently marry and then decide to divorce, California law allows the simultaneous dissolution of the marriage and the domestic partnership in one proceeding through a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership and Marriage.

Because domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages are relatively new, reflecting the changing views of society, they have some unique features, so it is always a good idea to consult an attorney familiar with the application of California law, which is always evolving in this often controversial area of family law.

Legal Counsel for Matters Involving California Same-sex Unions, Including Domestic Partnerships

In San Diego, the Boyd Law Firm regularly handles legal matters pertaining to domestic partnerships, including partnership dissolutions, as well as those involving same sex marriages and divorces. Our attorneys are always current on the latest California and Federal court decisions affecting same- sex unions, and we are well-equipped to assist you in this ever-evolving area of the law. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.