Can I Collect Alimony in California if I Enter a Registered Domestic Partnership?

By Ciele Edwards

Although California no longer awards marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the state officially recognizes these pairings by allowing same-sex couples to register a declaration of domestic partnership with the California secretary of state. A same-sex couple living in a registered domestic partnership is entitled to many of the same benefits of marriage and divorce as a married, heterosexual couple -- including alimony after the couple breaks up.

Although California no longer awards marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the state officially recognizes these pairings by allowing same-sex couples to register a declaration of domestic partnership with the California secretary of state. A same-sex couple living in a registered domestic partnership is entitled to many of the same benefits of marriage and divorce as a married, heterosexual couple -- including alimony after the couple breaks up.

Alimony

Alimony, often referred to as “spousal support,” is a set amount that one party must pay to the other following a legal separation or divorce. Participants in a registered domestic partnership in California who choose to terminate their arrangement have the same legal right to request alimony as a divorcing couple. You can request alimony only when your domestic partnership is dissolved. Simply entering into the partnership does not make you eligible for support payments.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Qualifying for Support

Terminating a domestic partnership does not automatically entitle you to receive alimony. The judge will consider several factors to determine whether or not to award you “partner support.” Some of the factors the judge may consider include: how long the partnership was in effect, your education level and earning capacity, whether or not you have children to support and the standard of living you enjoyed while the domestic partnership was still in effect.

Duration of Payments

Support payments are not designed to continue indefinitely. Although the amount of time your former partner must pay you alimony after your partnership ends is at the court's discretion, the goal of support payments is to help the party receiving the payments to become self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time. While this time frame may vary depending on your circumstances, the California State Code notes that a reasonable amount of time is generally one-half the length of the marriage or partnership. Thus, if you and your former partner dissolved your registered domestic partnership after four years and the court grants you support payments, those support payments will continue, on average, for no more than two years.

Taxes

After the termination of a marriage, the person paying alimony can deduct the alimony payments from his taxes, while the recipient of those payments must claim them on her taxes. The same is not necessarily true when you receive support payments following the dissolution of a registered domestic partnership. Federal tax laws do not recognize domestic partnerships for taxation purposes, and neither does California's state tax laws. If you are paying or receiving support payments after terminating your registered domestic partnership, it is important that you meet with an accountant or attorney who can help you properly include the support payments when filing your state and federal taxes.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Paying Alimony to Someone Who Lives With Someone

References

Resources

Related articles

How to Stop Permanent Alimony

Alimony, a financial award of support from one spouse to another in divorce, may be permanent in some cases. Courts commonly award temporary or rehabilitative alimony; these types of alimony end on a specific date or when the receiving spouse is able to support herself. Permanent alimony, by contrast, has no specific end. Whether a paying spouse can end permanent alimony depends on why the alimony was awarded and what has changed since the original award.

Can an Ex-Wife Get Alimony After a Divorce in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, it is possible to petition for alimony after the divorce is final, provided certain procedural requirements are met prior to the judgment. In North Carolina, divorcing spouses generally pursue an "absolute divorce," which, unlike a fault-based divorce, is granted solely on the basis of the couple's one-year separation. This type of divorce is most similar to the "no-fault" divorce followed by many other jurisdictions and does not require allegations of fault or misconduct. Also, fault-based divorces generally require lengthy hearings prior to finalization to work out other matters, whereas an absolute divorce allows parties to obtain a divorce and work out other issues afterward. Alimony is one of many issues decided during the divorce, and parties to an absolute divorce are free to agree to their own alimony terms during marital settlement negotiations, which can occur either before or after finalization.

Massachusetts Alimony Laws

Until 2012, in many cases, alimony in Massachusetts was awarded on a lifetime basis, and judges had widespread discretion concerning the amount and duration of alimony awards. In 2012, Massachusetts modified its existing alimony laws by adopting the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act, as it's commonly known, which sharply reduces the duration of alimony awards; alimony is now generally based on how long a couple was married. The 2012 reform law also reduced the amount of discretion judges have in determining the amount of alimony awards. This brings Massachusetts generally in line with the laws for awarding alimony in other states.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Spendthrift Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina

North Carolina does not take marital fault into account when granting a divorce, but it does consider wrongdoing by a ...

Domestic Partnership Divorce Rights

Ending a domestic partnership isn’t much different from ending a marriage. In both cases, the laws vary from ...

Do I Get Alimony if I Make More Money Than My Ex-Husband?

Should a couple that previously lived comfortably in a two-income household divorce, each must make financial ...

Which One Gets Alimony in Florida if Both Spouses Are Retired Military?

If you divorce in Florida, you and your spouse can agree on the terms of your divorce, such as property division, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED