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How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership in California

How to Dissolve a Domestic Partnership in California

A domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two individuals who have chosen to share their lives and responsibilities. However, just like any other relationship, there may come a time when the partnership needs to be dissolved. In California, the process of dissolving a domestic partnership is similar to that of a divorce. This article will guide you through the steps involved in dissolving a domestic partnership in California.

Grounds for Dissolving a Domestic Partnership

In California, there are two grounds for dissolving a domestic partnership: irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. Irreconcilable differences refer to situations where the partners can no longer get along and have reached a point where the relationship cannot be saved. Incurable insanity, on the other hand, refers to cases where one of the partners has been declared legally insane by a court.

Filing the Dissolution Petition

To initiate the dissolution process, either partner can file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the Superior Court in the county where either partner resides. The petitioner must provide information about the partnership, including the date of registration and the grounds for dissolution. It is advisable to consult with an attorney or seek legal advice to ensure the petition is completed accurately.

Serving the Petition

After filing the petition, the petitioner must serve a copy of the petition and a Summons on the other partner. This can be done through personal service, where a third party delivers the documents to the partner, or by mail, with proof of service. It is crucial to follow the proper legal procedures to serve the documents correctly, as failure to do so may result in delays or complications in the dissolution process.

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Response and Negotiation

Once served with the dissolution petition, the responding partner has 30 days to file a Response to the Petition. In the response, the partner can either agree or disagree with the terms and conditions proposed by the petitioner. If disagreements arise, both partners may need to engage in negotiations, either through direct communication or with the assistance of mediators or attorneys, to reach an agreement on issues such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation rights.

Finalizing the Dissolution

If the partners are able to reach an agreement, they can prepare a written agreement, known as a Marital Settlement Agreement, which outlines the terms and conditions of the dissolution. Both partners must sign the agreement, and it should be filed with the court. If there are minor children involved, the partners must also submit a parenting plan detailing custody and visitation arrangements.

Once the agreement is approved by the court, a Judgment of Dissolution of Domestic Partnership will be issued. This document legally ends the domestic partnership and becomes effective six months after it is filed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need an attorney to dissolve a domestic partnership in California?
A: While it is not required to have an attorney, it is highly recommended to seek legal advice, especially if there are complex issues involved, such as child custody or significant assets.

Q: Can we dissolve our domestic partnership if we have children together?
A: Yes, the dissolution process includes addressing child custody, visitation rights, and child support. It is important to prioritize the best interests of the children during negotiations.

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Q: Can we dissolve our domestic partnership without going to court?
A: Yes, if both partners agree on all the terms and conditions of the dissolution, you can prepare the necessary documents and submit them to the court without having to appear in front of a judge.

Q: What happens to our shared property during the dissolution?
A: California follows the principle of community property, meaning that property acquired during the domestic partnership is generally divided equally between the partners. However, the partners can agree on a different arrangement, as long as it is approved by the court.

Q: How long does the dissolution process take?
A: The length of the dissolution process can vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the issues involved and the court’s caseload. On average, it takes around six months for a domestic partnership dissolution to be finalized in California.

In conclusion, dissolving a domestic partnership in California involves filing a petition, serving the documents, negotiating the terms, and obtaining a judgment from the court. Seeking legal advice and guidance throughout the process can help ensure a smooth and fair dissolution. Remember that each situation is unique, so consulting with an attorney is essential to address your specific circumstances.

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