Protecting the Rights of Oregon Same-Sex Couples Ending Registered Domestic Partnerships (Known as Civil Unions in Other States)
Legal same-sex registered domestic partnerships have existed in Oregon since February 2008. The laws governing the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships have not yet been developed in case law. The Oregon statute governing registered domestic partnerships is sparsely worded, but the intent is clear: if same-sex couples join in a registered domestic partnership and later decide to end their relationship, all Oregon state laws that apply to traditional divorce apply to the dissolution of same-sex registered domestic partnerships. However, registered domestic partnerships are not recognized under federal law, and federal laws that apply to divorcing couples do not apply to same-sex couples dissolving a registered domestic partnership.
"This state has a strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, including the families of same-sex couples and their children. All Oregon families should be provided with the opportunity to obtain necessary legal protections and status and the ability to achieve their fullest potential." - Chapter 99, Oregon Laws 2007, Sec. 2, paragraph (4).
This law seeks to remove the obstacles and hardships historically faced by same-sex couples and to establish rights, responsibilities and benefits that couples and families comprised of same-sex couples are otherwise denied because Oregon law prohibits same-sex marriage. Oregon does not use the term "civil union," nor does Oregon law require a formal solemnization ceremony. Same-sex couples register with the state by filing a "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" with the Department of Human Services and receiving a "Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership." Both parties must be at least 18 years of age, capable of entering into a contract, and at least one of them must be a resident of Oregon. The same prohibitions to entering into marriage apply to domestic partnerships.
Jensen & Leiberan, represents members of Portland's GLBT community in all family law matters such as dissolution of same sex registered domestic partnerships. Contact us to schedule a consultation.
Legally Dissolving a Registered Domestic Partnership
Gay and lesbian couples who have entered into a registered domestic partnership have the same rights and responsibilities that married couples have under Oregon law. A registered domestic partnership must be dissolved by a court, or have been dissolved due to death of one of the partners, before either party to the domestic partnership can enter into another legally recognized relationship, be it marriage or another domestic partnership. The issues involved in dissolving registered domestic partnerships may include:
- Division of assets and debts
- Partner support and child support
- Child custody and parenting time
- Grandparent or third party custody and visitation
- Dividing Oregon business property
- Division of property owned by one partner prior to the registration of a registered domestic partnership
Although they have the same rights as married couples under Oregon law, registered domestic partners do not have the same rights that married couples have under federal law. The dissolution of a registered domestic partnership may bring about significant federal tax consequences for both partners and difficulties in dividing retirement accounts between the partners because they are not afforded the same rights as a divorcing married couple under federal law.
When dissolving a registered domestic partnership, having an attorney who is fully versed in Oregon and federal law and experienced in upholding GLBT rights can help you resolve the issues in this life transition, whether they are issues with children, support, or issues involving the division of financial assets.
Providing Understanding and Compassionate Care
As experienced family law attorneys, we understand the emotional components involved in ending significant relationships. We also recognize how very important it is to have someone fighting for your interests and rights when you are in emotional turmoil.
At Jensen & Leiberan, we proactively work with our clients to help them chart a new course in life. We review all factors involved and serve as aggressive advocates when negotiating the dissolution agreement or, if necessary, when fighting in court over dissolution issues.
From registered domestic partnerships to cohabitation to child custody and support when the parents have never lived together, Jensen & Leiberan provides family law legal services to the Portland metro area and throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. Please contact our office in Portland to arrange an initial consultation.