Can I divorce my wife and then claim her as a domestic partner?

We’ve been “separated” for 7 years. She has been living in the garage as a “roommate” for the last 5 years.We are cordial but no hope of reconciling the marriage.

Asked on July 16, 2012 under Family Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Divorced couples CAN become domestic partners.  You cannot become domestic partners while separated and not divorced.  You would have to get divorced first.

In addition, heterosexual couples must be over the age of 62 to qualify for domestic partnership in California.  In additon, the couple must apply to the secretary of state for domestic partnership, along with a nominal fee.  So, you can't simply claim your wife as a domestic partner--she must agree and sign forms in order to qualify as domestic partners under the law.

Domestic partnership is very similar to marriage, with the sharing of earnings and debt as community property and community debt. 

You should consult a local family law attorney about your separation to ensure that you are legally separated.  You may want to consider divorcing if there is no hope of reconciliation.

Best of luck.

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