It’s never easy ending a legal relationship. However, ending less common types of relationships can be particularly hard because there are fewer resources available. For instance, if you want to end your domestic partnership, you may find that resources for people who want to get divorced overwhelm any sources relevant to you.
The actual process of ending your domestic partnership isn’t particularly complicated. With the proper legal assistance, you can become legally single again with minimal stress and effort. Here’s what you need to know about domestic partnerships in Oregon, how they’re different from marriages, and how to end your domestic partnership effectively.
What Is a Domestic Partnership
Domestic partnerships are an alternative method of formalizing a relationship. People who want to form a permanent commitment to each other but don’t want to get married can choose to register a domestic partnership instead. In Oregon, registered domestic partnerships (RDPs) are defined as “civil contract entered into between two individuals of the same sex who are at least 18 years of age, who are otherwise capable, and at least one of whom is a resident of Oregon.”
Domestic partnerships like these have their roots in LGTBQ+ history. As same-gender couples fought for the right to marry, many states devised alternatives to marriage, including domestic partnerships and civil unions.
The purpose of these alternatives was to provide same-gender couples a way to access some of the same legal rights as marriage offers, but without using the term “marriage.” Even today, most domestic partnerships in Oregon are between same-gender couples.
Under an RDP, Oregon couples can file taxes jointly, inherit property from each other, and access many similar benefits. However, RDPs don’t offer all of the same benefits as marriage. That’s why many people choose to dissolve their RDPs, not to end relationships but to get married instead.
The Differences Between Domestic Partnerships and Marriages
By nature, RDPs and marriages have many similarities. Under both contracts, Oregon residents can:
- Access each other’s insurance benefits
- Adopt their partner’s children
- Receive child custody
- Take sick and bereavement leave on behalf of their partner
- Visit their partner in the hospital and make medical decisions on their behalf
- File taxes jointly
The differences are important, though. In Oregon, there are a few critical rights and benefits that aren’t equal across domestic partnerships and marriages.
Married couples can face the “marriage penalty tax” if they both work. In this case, the pair winds up in a higher tax bracket than they would if they could file separately. They have to pay more in taxes just because they’re married.
While domestic partners have the right to file taxes jointly, they don’t have to. They can instead file completely separately and avoid this penalty. If they choose this path, they may also miss out on federal tax breaks, so which type of union is financially better depends on the individual couple.
Social Security Benefits
Only married couples can receive Social Security benefits, veterans’ pensions, and other retirement funds on behalf of their partners. This means that people in RDPs cannot draw on their partner’s work history to receive higher benefits in retirement despite having the same kind of relationship under a different title.
Asset Division and Spousal Support
The laws determining how assets are divided in a divorce can be quite strict. However, RDPs don’t face the same kind of scrutiny. When a domestic partnership is dissolved, it’s up to the couple or judge to determine how to equitably split their property. Furthermore, domestic partners typically aren’t eligible to receive alimony when the partnership is dissolved.
Ending Oregon Domestic Partnerships
So how do you end a domestic partnership in Oregon? The basic process is simple.
- Determine which forms you need to submit: There are two possible collections of forms you might need to submit, depending on whether or not you and your partner share children. Both sets of documents are available on the Oregon state judicial website.
- File for a dissolution: Once you’ve determined which set of forms applies to your partnership, you need to file a Dissolution of Partnership form with the county in which you currently live. This form is very similar to the form used to trigger divorces. It covers why you want to dissolve your partnership and who is filing.
- Divide your assets: Like with a marriage, you’ll need to split the assets and debts you’ve acquired during your partnership. This is typically the most complicated step, as many couples disagree on how to divide their possessions.
- Determine child custody and support: If you have kids, you’ll need to go to court to have child custody and child support agreements determined or approved. If not, you don’t need to worry about this step.
Asset division is particularly complicated when you’re ending your RDP. Oregon is an equitable distribution state for divorce, meaning that marital assets are supposed to be divided fairly but not necessarily evenly when marriages end. This also applies to RDPs, with the additional complication that they aren’t recognized federally.
When splitting assets and debts in your RDP, federal debts such as student loans or certain mortgages may not be eligible to divide or reassign. If you want to make sure your RDP is dissolved as efficiently as possible, legal help is invaluable. Experienced lawyers have the knowledge and resources to help you split assets and debts in a way that’s fair to both of you despite the complications.
End Your RDP the Right Way in Oregon
Whether you’re dissolving your RDP to officially marry your partner or because you no longer want to be in the relationship, the process can be complicated. Working with a qualified Oregon divorce and dissolution lawyer can make all the difference.
The team at Regele Law, LLC, is ready to help you move on to the next stage of your life, whatever that may be. Get in touch to schedule your consultation. You can resolve your confusion and start dissolving your RDP with the expert help of experienced, empathetic lawyers today.