How to Dissolve a California Domestic Partnership

By Jimmy Boyd

Updated July 21, 2017

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California has a domestic partnership law for same-sex couples. Domestic partners have rights and duties similar to those of married individuals. Naturally, they may also have problems in the relationship and decide to part ways. The partners may legally terminate or dissolve the legal relationship. The procedure for dissolution depends on the particular situation of each partnership. The partners must learn which procedures apply to their individual situation to legally dissolve a California domestic partnership.

Terminating a Domestic Partnership Through the California Secretary of State

Read through the California Secretary of State's "Terminating a California Registered Domestic Partnership" brochure with your partner. Determine if your partnership meets all 13 requirements on the third page. Terminating a domestic partnership through the Secretary of State is limited to certain situations. You may not dissolve a California domestic partnership through this method unless all 13 requirements are met.

Fill out and sign the "Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership" at the bottom of the brochure. Both partners must sign the notice. Go together to a California notary public and have the notice notarized.

Send the notice to the Secretary of State at the following address:

Secretary of State PO Box 942877 Sacramento, CA 94277-0001 (916) 653-3984

There is no filing fee for the notice. Wait six months for the termination to take effect.

Terminating a California Domestic Partnership Through the Superior Court

Fill out and print a petition for dissolution of a domestic partnership. You can use the same form to request a nullification of the partnership or a legal separation. Nullification is like an annulment of a marriage and voids the partnership from its inception. A legal separation continues the relationship but allows the parties to determine child custody and other issues. Fill out a court summons. The summons is a form that gives notice to the other partner that he is being sued and must respond to the court. File the petition with the California Superior Court in your area.

Serve the partner with a copy of the petition and summons. Although you may use any adult (except yourself) to do this, you should hire a professional process server. You cannot proceed with the dissolution until your partner has received the petition and summons.

Maintain contact with the court for scheduling purposes. Show up to speak to the judge at any scheduled court hearings. Prepare to call witnesses on your behalf if the judge schedules testimony on contested issues. Try to agree with your partner on distribution of property, distribution of financial obligations, child custody and support, and partner support. Expect the process to take at least six months. It may take longer if partners have problems agreeing on the issues.


Consider hiring an attorney when using the Superior Court. The process is much more complex than termination through the Secretary of State.

Ask the court for mediation to resolve differences with your partner. A mediator will try to help the parties come to an agreement on the issues. This can speed up the time it takes to dissolve the domestic partnership.


Keep in mind that either party may revoke the notice sent to the Secretary of State within the six-month waiting period. A partner can revoke the notice for any reason.