Living together as domestic partners is a choice many couples in Massachusetts make. There are certainly advantages to this; however, when things do not work out, there are some disadvantages as well. Dissolving domestic partnerships can be challenging. In many states, those involved often lack the same legal protections granted married couples.
Those who live as domestic partners tend to acquire many of the same things married couples do over the course of their relationships. Money, debt and real estate can all be considered shared property. In Massachusetts, shared property may be subject to division in the dissolution of a domestic partnership — much like it is in divorce cases. This means that all assets that are jointly-owned may be divided equitably between each party. If a domestic partnership agreement exists — a document much like a prenup, — assets will likely be treated according to what was originally agreed.
If children are involved, both partners have the right to seek custody, visitation and support for their kids. This requires filing a custody petition in court. Parents may be able to create an acceptable custody plan outside of court; though, some may require court intervention in order to resolve any issues.
At the end of the day, terminating a domestic partnership can be as simple as notifying one’s partner he or she wants out, or it can be a little more complicated and require litigation. Those who are in domestic partnerships can help themselves by creating domestic partnership or cohabitation agreements long before the desire to terminate the union arises. By having such agreements in place — which are legally recognized in Massachusetts, — dividing property, determining custody and establishing maintenance can be an a much easier process.
Source: FindLaw, “Ending a Domestic Partnership“, Accessed on Nov. 30, 2016