Upon filing for divorce, many people ask, “How long will this take?” However, another question we often receive is whether the California divorce timeline for a domestic partnership is different from that of a marriage. Plus, if the timeline is different, is it longer or shorter? If you’re trying to gauge the timeline for your separation from a domestic partner, read on to learn more.
How is a Domestic Partnership Different From a Marriage?
California law defines domestic partnership as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring” (SB-30). Originally, California intended for same-sex couples to primarily utilize domestic partnerships. That said, the state also granted same-sex couples the right to marry in 2013.
Domestic partnerships are beneficial for couples looking for legal protection after one partner dies. Additionally, domestic partners can adopt children more easily than couples without a legal partnership. However, California’s domestic partnerships are not federally recognized. As a result, couples may have trouble adopting a child from another country or registering for federal employment benefits. Generally, individuals opt for domestic partnership over marriage to avoid religious and patriarchal affiliations. Further, some couples may enter a domestic partnership to avoid remarriage after a previous divorce.
California’s New Domestic Partnership Laws
As of late 2019, California’s domestic partnership laws changed to “remove the requirement that persons be of the same sex or of the opposite sex and over 62 years of age in order to enter into a domestic partnership” (SB 30 Wiener). In other words, California has opened domestic partnership as an option for heterosexual couples of all ages.
Further, experts are projecting a rise in domestic partnerships in California over the next several years. However, this unfortunately indicates that divorces or separations from domestic partners may also increase in the state. Therefore, Californians should familiarize themselves with the divorce timeline for domestic partnerships as well as marriages.
Terminating Domestic Partnerships
If domestic partners decides to legally separate, or divorce, they may do so in two ways:
1) Termination of Domestic Partnership Through the Secretary of State
In certain circumstances, partners may terminate a registered domestic partnership by preparing and filing a Notice to Terminate Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. However, these parties must meet the following requirements:
- Both partners have read and understand the Secretary of State brochure regarding terminating domestic partnership.
- Both partners want to terminate the domestic partnership.
- Registration of domestic partnership was completed no longer than five years ago.
- Neither party birthed any children before or during the domestic partnership.
- Parties did not adopt any children during the domestic partnership.
- Neither party is now pregnant.
- Neither party owns any part of land or buildings OR is renting any land or buildings (except where one or both partners live. Further, that lease may not include a purchase option that will end within one year of filing the Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership).
- Not counting automobiles, community property is not worth more than $40,000.
- Not counting automobiles, neither party owns separate property worth more than $40,000 (exclusive of automobile values).
- Besides automobile loans, community obligations are less than $6,000.
- Both parties are willing to sign an agreement on the division of possessions and debts OR there are no community property or debts.
- Both parties agree that neither wants money nor support from the other except what is included in the property settlement agreement dividing the community property and obligations.
2) Termination of Domestic Partnership Through the Superior Court
If the domestic partners in question fail to meet any ONE or more of the qualifications listed above, they must divorce through the California Superior Court. In fact, this domestic partnership dissolution process is identical to that of marriage. Specifically, the law states:
The dissolution of a domestic partnership, nullity of a domestic partnership, and legal separation of partners in a domestic partnership shall follow the same procedures, and the partners shall possess the same rights, protections, and benefits, and be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties, as apply to the dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage, and legal separation of spouses in a marriage, respectively. (California Family Code section 299(a))
California Divorce Timeline for Domestic Partnerships
Whichever method domestic partnerships choose to terminate their relationship, the California divorce timeline is the same as marriage termination. More specifically, divorcing a domestic partner will take at least six months, the same approximate time required for terminating a marriage. Legally speaking, the California Secretary of State states the following:
The domestic partnership will terminate automatically six months after the date the Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership is filed with the California Secretary of State, as long as neither partner revokes (cancels) the termination before the end of the six-month period. (Source)
That said, while the shortest timeline for California divorce from a domestic partnership is six months, it could take longer. For instance, partners filing divorce through the Superior Court may decide to appear in front of a judge. Further, they may have to attend hearings on contested issues such as child support or alimony. Ultimately, divorcing domestic partners should reference the California divorce timeline for married couples for more information.
A People’s Choice Can Help
Whichever method you are utilizing to terminate your domestic partnership, A People’s Choice is here to help you throughout the entire process. In fact, we offer low-cost, flat-fee services tailored exactly to your needs! Plus, we offer “documents only” AND full-service options depending on how much assistance you require.
A People’s Choice has over 40 years’ experience assisting couples terminating their legal partnerships. Also, we’ve established an excellent reputation in the community. Contact A People’s Choice today to learn more about how we can help you complete and file your divorce paperwork in a timely and efficient manner.
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