Domestic Partnerships Q&A

Before same-sex marriage was legalized in California and nationwide, many same-sex couples registered as domestic partners. Registered domestic partners have most, but not all, of the rights and responsibilities of married people under California law. Domestic partnerships are subject to the same community property laws as marriages.

At Viola Law Firm, our experienced family lawyers can assist with the dissolution of domestic partnerships, including division of property, child custody, visitation, child support and partner support agreements. To discuss your situation with an attorney, please contact our firm at 650-532-9389. Our office is in downtown San Mateo. To get started, here are answers to common questions we receive regarding domestic partnerships.

I relied on my partner for financial support throughout our relationship. She wants to dissolve our domestic partnership. Do I have any rights to continued support?
Yes. The court is required to order payment of partner support from or to a domestic partner in the same manner as traditional spousal support. The amount and length of time that one partner receives support from the other is largely dependent on the length of the partnership and each person's ability to financially support him or herself. A court may make temporary or permanent support orders depending on the specific circumstances of the parties. The tax consequences for partner support are different from spousal support.

Am I entitled to any portion of my partner's pension?
Many pensions are governed by federal law under which California's registered domestic partnership laws do not apply. The extent to which a registered domestic partner can receive a portion of the other partner's pension depends on the individual plan and the parties' agreements.

My partner and I have been registered for three years, have very few assets and no debts. Do we have to file for divorce to terminate our partnership?
Just as in marital dissolutions, if domestic partners have been registered less than five years, do not have children, do not have any real property and meet the other financial requirements, the parties may qualify for summary dissolution and do not need to file a petition for dissolution (divorce). The specific facts of each case must be reviewed before determining whether to use summary dissolution.