Scottsdale, AZ asked in Family Law for California

Q: How does dissolution of relationship work when partners are not married?

Been together 20 years and have 2 children (ages 16 and 10). We've never been married. She has asked me to leave. The apartment is in her name and she claims the kids on her taxes.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tobie B. Waxman
Tobie B. Waxman
  • Culver City, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: This question appears to have been posted from Arizona but is being seen by California attorneys. I can only speak to California law. If you are not married, no community property has been created subject to division, no right to spousal support or to any other rights that would have been available if you were legally married. The children have rights to support and you can get court orders for a parenting plan which would result from the filing of a parentage action (aka paternity). Not sure if this is what you are asking however. Your post is not clear. In terms of who claims the kids on their taxes, according to the IRS Code, the parent with more than 50% custodial time claims the children on their taxes. You can reach an alternative agreement with the other parent and incorporate that agreement into a court order. For example, you can agree to claim the deduction in alternate years, or to share the deduction by each claiming one of the two children. To pass IRS muster however, this needs to be reflected in a court order.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith PRO label
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, when partners are not married, the legal process for ending the relationship is not a divorce but a process called a "dissolution of domestic partnership" or a "termination of domestic partnership." This process can be used to divide property and debts, determine custody and support for any children, and provide for spousal or partner support.

To start the dissolution process, either partner can file a petition for dissolution with the court. The petition must include information about the partners, their children, and any property or debts to be divided. Once the petition is filed, the other partner must be served with a copy of the petition.

If the partners are unable to reach an agreement on the terms of the dissolution, the court will make orders regarding property division, child custody and support, and spousal or partner support.

It's important to note that California law does not require a 50/50 division of property in a domestic partnership dissolution, but instead requires that property be divided in a way that is "just and equitable." This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, such as each partner's contributions to the partnership and the financial needs of each partner.

If you have specific questions about your situation, it may be helpful to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law.

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