New York Domestic Partner Divorce Laws

By Heather Frances J.D.

New York laws are relatively clear about the standards and procedures for marriage and divorce, including issues of child custody, property division and spousal support. However, same-sex divorce issues and domestic partnership dissolutions are not always so clear, because this is a relatively new area of law. New York couples can choose to marry or form a domestic partnership, and the dissolution procedures for each are very different.

New York laws are relatively clear about the standards and procedures for marriage and divorce, including issues of child custody, property division and spousal support. However, same-sex divorce issues and domestic partnership dissolutions are not always so clear, because this is a relatively new area of law. New York couples can choose to marry or form a domestic partnership, and the dissolution procedures for each are very different.

Marriage Vs. Domestic Partnership

New York law began allowing same-sex couples to marry on July 24, 2011, and the marriage process for these same-sex couples is the same as that of married couples. Those who wish to marry must obtain a marriage license, wait 24 hours and marry in the state. Once married, couples have all the legal benefits and obligations as any married couple. New York allows couples in a close and committed personal relationship to legally register as domestic partners. Domestic partnership provides access to some but not all of the benefits of marriage, such as sharing health insurance or other employee benefits. Registering as domestic partners requires completing an application and paying a filing fee.

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Divorce

Divorce only applies to marriage, not domestic partnership, since divorce breaks the marriage bond. Some same-sex divorces have raised interesting legal issues. For example, New York allows couples to marry in the state even though they don’t live there, but these couples may find it impossible to divorce in their home state if their home state does not recognize the marriage. Generally, all couples who live in New York follow the same divorce laws, but because federal laws do not recognize same-sex marriages, federal benefits and tax consequences may be different for same-sex couples.

Dissolving a Partnership

Domestic partnerships are much easier to dissolve than marriages. Domestic partnerships can be terminated by either partner at any time by filing a termination statement in person at the city or county office in which the couple registered their partnership. The termination statement simply says that the partnership is terminated and the partners are no longer partners. In some places, like Westchester County, a partner can even file the termination statement by mail if it has been properly completed and notarized. Partners in New York City can also file by mail, but only if they can present a convincing argument about why they cannot file in person.

Resolving Partnership Issues

Though filing a termination statement allows domestic partners to break their legal bond, it will leave open many of the myriad issues that are resolved by a typical divorce. The termination statement does not address shared property, child custody or other common divorce topics. Partners who have been together a long time and have combined their finances and families may find domestic partnership dissolution trickier than divorce because there are few clear-cut laws and procedures to help them. For example, partners who own a home together cannot rely on a divorce court to decide the fate of that asset. Similarly, partners who have a child together will have to file a separate child custody case to acquire a court-ordered custody arrangement.

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How to Prove a Business Partnership Exists

References

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General Partnership Laws & Regulations

A partnership is a form of business entity owned by more than one partner. The key consideration is that the business is conducted with the aim of making a profit. Most partners enter into a formal written partnership agreement, setting out their rights and obligations, but a partnership can operate effectively on the basis of a handshake. Each state has its own laws relating to partnerships but the general principles remain the same across the United States.

How to File for a Dissolution of Domestic Partnership in California

California offers two ways for partners in a registered domestic partnership to go their separate ways: dissolution and termination. Since domestic partnerships are registered by the California Secretary of State, the termination process goes through that office and does not provide the right to a hearing or the ability to appeal. Dissolution, also known as divorce, works through the courts to end the relationship. California offers a shortened dissolution process for couples who are married for less than five years, have no children and agree on how to divide their property, but this shortened dissolution process is not available for registered domestic partners. The termination process through the Secretary of State is similarly abbreviated for partners who qualify.

South Carolina LLP Laws

South Carolina law regulates how a Limited Liability Partnership, or LLP, may form, operate, and ultimately dissolve. Unlike limited partnerships or general partnerships where one or more partners are personally liable for the debts of the business, an LLP limits liability for all partners. Each partner may participate in the management of the business, and receive a portion of the profits.

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