When a couple dissolves their domestic partnership, their status will become as it was prior to entering into the partnership in the first place. Domestic partners must still go through the same types of issues that a divorcing couple does, including property division, child custody issues and support. Unfortunately, the protections afforded to divorcing married couples are not available to those dissolving domestic partnerships under certain circumstances.
Property division will take into account the property that was held separately by each partner and that which was acquired during the domestic partnership. Division of the jointly-acquired property will generally proceed in a similar manner to that of a divorce. Domestic partners may not be able to receive a portion of their partner's retirement account and other associated property to which married partners have rights, however.
Domestic partners may also wish to have custody or visitation rights with a child of the relationship. This may involve a court's determination that such visitation is in the child's best interests in the event that the child is the biological child of the other partner and has not been adopted by the partner seeking visitation. Although maintenance is not always awarded, it is possible for domestic partners to seek it. The court will consider the length of the relationship, the relative financial circumstances of both partners, the standard of living they enjoyed, their age and the amount of time needed to acquire an education or job skills.
There are several considerations that people in domestic partnerships will have to take into account that divorcing couples may not encounter. Many find it beneficial to seek the help of a family law attorney to assist in negotiating an agreement with the other partner or with litigating the issues through a contested court proceeding.
Source: Findlaw, "Ending a Domestic Partnership", December 31, 2014