Domestic Partnerships

January 31, 2024 | By Doppelt and Forney
Domestic Partnerships

The registration of non married persons under the law giving rights under the family law and probate code in San Diego, California is new and still evolving. It is essential to consult with a firm which has experience in family law since these overlap in the creation and termination. Below is a summary of the law in this area by our San Diego domestic partnership lawyers.

The rights and responsibilities of registered domestic partners as expanded as of 2005 under California law. In the courts of San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon and Vista, the Court's follow the new law and it is very technical and complicated. In essence, these expanded rights parallel the rights of married couples in many respects however not in others and these differences are significant and have been a point of contention during the last decade as seen in the marriages which occurred in San Francisco, California and then were declared void.

As such, competent legal counsel is essential when contemplating either creating a registered domestic partnership or terminating a registered domestic partnership.

Except as specifically prohibited by the laws of the State of California [and federal law as this is supreme over California state law and San Diego county law] registered domestic partners have the same rights as married couples however where federal law differs from California state law, the Family Law Code addresses this specifically in Family Law Code Section 297.5(e). Any person in the State of California and in San Diego or any other city should consult with a domestic partnership attorney as to the exact meaning of this or carefully read and analyze.

This Family Law Code section details the legal effects of a Domestic Partnership Declaration. The Declaration needs to be fully executed and also comply with all of the other requirements of which there are many. It is clear that Registered Domestic Partners may file a joint State of California return effective January 1, 2007 and this is a significant change in the law. To date, no change has been made by the federal government and registered domestic partners may not file a joint federal income tax return. The domestic partnership lawyers at our San Diego firm see this as an example of the federal law having supremacy over the state law.

As with a marriage, a registered domestic partnership can be terminated. The requirements for this termination are set forth in Family Law Code Section 299. These are very specific and there are two categories for the filing. The first is a "summary" termination which does not involve filing for a proceeding for dissolution of the domestic partnership in a court in San Diego, California in either of the court houses which handle this subject matter. These are located in San Diego, Vista, El Cajon and Chula Vista. A Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership can be filed with the Secretary of State of California if certain conditions are met.

Some of these are listed in this article such as signed by both parties, no children of the relationship born before or after the registration or adopted after the registration and no more than five years in duration. There are other requirements and these are very technical and this is why an attorney needs to be involved in any termination of the registered domestic partnership.

As sometimes happens in a divorce, the judgment is not final and parties re marry and have new relationships and think they are divorced when they are not. This creates problems in the event of death while they are still married. In a registered domestic partnership, the same problem can occur if the registered domestic partnership is not legally terminated.

In the event of death during a registered domestic partnership, the Probate Court will be involved if there is not a revocable living trust. The surviving domestic partner of a non terminated registered domestic partnership, under the Probate and Family Law Code, has rights regarding the estate. There are many probate codes which apply and this is why it is very important to have a domestic partnership attorney in San Diego review all family law documents including registered domestic partnerships. In our firm, we have experience in family law and are in a unique position to assist you.

The Superior Courts of the County of San Diego have jurisdiction over all legal proceedings relating to the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships, nullity of registered domestic partnerships, and also legal separation of partners. While the procedural posture and pleadings are very similar to marriage one important distinction is that the residency requirements is different.

Contact Us Online or call us at 858-312-8500 in Southern California.

Our San Diego domestic partnership attorneys will be pleased to offer you a complimentary and confidential consultation up to a length of 30 minutes to discuss strategies and techniques to assist in protecting your rights and trying to obtain your legal goals.