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2011: Terminating a Registered Domestic Partnership in California: Dissolution by Filing Petition in San Diego Superior Court for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity

In San Diego, if the mandatory requirements are not met to file the Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership under Family Law Code Section 299, then the only alternative to dissolve the registered domestic partnership is with a petition for dissolution, annulment or legal separation. The filing fee, in 2011, in San Diego Superior Court to file the Petition for Dissolution of the Registered Domestic Partnership is $395. If a motion needs to be filed for custody and/or visitation or support, then there is an additional fee to the Court. The San Diego Superior Court's are located in Vista, Chula Vista, El Cajon and San Diego.

There are four different types of petitions for dissolving a registered domestic partnership:

(1) Petition for Legal Separation of Domestic Partners

(2) Petition for Judgment of Nullity of Domestic Partnership

(3) Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership and Marriage

(4) Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership

In all filings of either of these four petitions, the San Diego Superior Court will issue a Notice of Case Assignment to a Family Law Department and set a mandatory status conference or case management conference under the Family Law Local Rules. A response will need to be filed by the other partner and both parties will state their positions with regards to their issues: custody and visitation if children of the domestic partnership; support based on disparity of income and other family law codes; division of community assets from date of registration of the domestic partnership to date of dissolution of the domestic partnership and division of community debts from the date of registration of the domestic partnership to the date of dissolution as above.

A petition for dissolution of domestic partnership asks the Court to dissolve the registered domestic partnership. The other partner files a response and then a Judgment [after the mandatory waiting period of at least six months from the date of filing] can be entered. All issues are resolved either by agreement of the partners or by a Court decision at a trial or alternative dispute resolution where agreed to by the partners.

A petition for dissolution of domestic partnership and marriage asks to dissolve both the marriage and domestic partnership in one action. In this case, the Judgment of the Court will be for both the dissolution of the registered domestic partnership as well as the marriage. It is a six month waiting period.

A petition for nullity of the domestic partnership is to ask the Court to make an order that the registered domestic partnership was not valid [void] from the time it was prepared and filed. This judgment would restore the parties legal status to what it was before they entered into the registered domestic partnership. This is a very complicated area and the grounds for nullity are very limited. As such, it is possible to plead in the alternative: ask for nullity and [if not] then ask for dissolution. Nullity will have the effect of no division of community property debts or assets but may include the other issues as stated above as applicable.

A petition for legal separation of domestic partners does not restore the partners to the status they were before the domestic partnership [as opposed to a nullity of the domestic partnership] and does not dissolve the domestic partnership [as opposed to a dissolution of the domestic partnership] but would have the effect of financial separation. The Court, in a legal separation of a domestic partnership, can divide community assets and debts, issue custody and visitation orders and also order support. As opposed to the dissolution of the domestic partnership, there is not a six month minimum waiting period.

If you need legal representation for any of these petitions, please feel free to contact us and we would be pleased to discuss your individual situation with you.

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