Domestic Partnership Termination 101

A domestic partnership may be terminated without filing a dissolution in family court. This article discusses the requirements for terminating a domestic partnership by filing a Notice of Termination with the Secretary of State.

What is a Domestic Partnership?

A California registered domestic partnership is a legal relationship available to all same-sex couples, and to those opposite-sex couples where at least one party is age 62 or older. Unlike a marriage, a domestic partnership is dissolvable in some instances by filing a termination notice with the California Secretary of State. If you have children, property/debt exceeding a certain amount, or if there is disagreement with your partner about certain issues, you will have to file for dissolution in court.

Can we File for Termination with the California Secretary of State?

Yes, so long as your domestic partnership has not been registered for more than 5 years, and you and your partner meet a long list of other requirements. See the list, below.

You must be able to answer “yes” to all of the following criteria:
  1. We agree to terminate the domestic partnership.
  2. We have not been registered as domestic partners more than 5 years.
  3. We have no children together by birth.
  4. We did not adopt any children during our domestic partnership.
  5. Neither of us is pregnant.
  6. Neither of us owns any real property.
  7. Neither of us is renting (note: there is an exception for a rental residence).
  8. Except for vehicle loans, our community debt is not more than $6,000.
  9. Not counting loans and automobiles, our community property is worth less than $41,000.
  10. Not counting loans and automobiles, neither one of us has separate property totaling more than $41,000.
  11. We have prepared and signed a property settlement agreement, or, agree that no community property or community debt have been accumulated.
  12. We agree that we do not want money or support from the other partner.

When is Filing for Dissolution in Family Court Appropriate:

The list, above, sets forth the requirements of filing a termination with the Secretary of State. Common examples of where dissolution in family court is required include:

  • If you do not meet all requirements set forth above, you must file for dissolution in family court to dissolve the domestic partnership.
  • If you or or partner seek spousal support.
  • If you have been registered domestic partners for more than five years, even if you meet all other requirements.
  • If you have minor children together, either through birth or adoption.

Not sure whether your domestic partnership can be terminated out of court? Contact an experienced attorney to find out whether your domestic partnership can be terminated through the Secretary of State. The Cortino Law Office advises clients on domestic partnership termination, including complex issues related to asset division, spousal support, and child custody / visitation. Contact our office today to find out how we can assist you with your case.


Disclaimer: This publication is designed to provide our clients and contacts with information they can use to more effectively manage their resources and information. The contents of these publications are for informational purposes only. Neither the publication nor the lawyer(s) who authored it are rendering legal or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters. The author assumes no liability in connection with the use of this publication.