While many couples continue to affirm their commitment to one another by getting married, others opt to enter into a domestic partnership. New York State defines a domestic partner as anyone who meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Enters into a legally-recognized domestic partnership
- Is registered as a domestic partner with their employer or that of their partner
- Is the named beneficiary of their partner’s employment benefits
- Is covered by their partner’s health insurance
- Depends on the other person for support (or vice-versa)
While they don’t yet have access to all the benefits as married couples, domestic partners still enjoy certain privileges. If you are in a domestic partnership in New York City, then you have the right to:
- Visit your partner if they are hospitalized or placed in a care facility.
- Receive insurance benefits and/or a monetary award if your partner is a city employee, a police officer, or firefighter and dies in the line of duty.
- Receive a financial award if your partner is killed while attempting to prevent or stop a crime
- Claim death benefits
If you have children together, then your support obligation to them is the same as a married parent. Unmarried fathers who have acknowledged or proven paternity have the right to custody and visitation if their relationship with the mother ends.
Ending a domestic partnership in New York
Unlike marriages, there is no divorce involved if the partners decide to break up. Domestic partnerships can be ended by either partner at any time by filing a termination statement at the city or county office where their registration was originally processed. However, you may have to go through some legal processes if you and your former partner had children together, share ownership of property, or ran a business together.
Like a married couple undergoing an uncontested divorce, you and your former partner can reach your own agreement on how you want to share custody of the children and divide shared property. If you can’t agree, then you can file a child custody case, but the division of property is tricky because there is no divorce settlement negotiation involved in a domestic partnership breakup. You and your former partner will have to seek legal advice on mutually-acquired assets and liabilities.
Contact a New York family law attorney
When a New York domestic partnership ends, it’s always a good idea to engage a New York family law attorney to help you resolve any legal issues that need to be addressed before you go your separate ways. Although these relationships are easier to terminate than a marriage, there can still be complications that are best resolved with help from legal counsel. Jayson Lutzky is a highly experienced Bronx lawyer offering free initial in-person consultations. You may reach his office at 718-329-9500.