Domestic Partnerships

Until recently, same sex domestic partners were not provided the legal rights that they deserve. Oregon law changed in 2007 to allow same sex domestic partners to register and receive the rights and obligations of married couples. Electing to register as domestic partners was a significant option given that Oregon didn’t legalize same sex marriage until May of 2014. The lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP provide advice to same sex couples who are considering registration and to those who have registered to assist them with asset planning.

Opposite sex couples who cohabitate also have rights in Oregon if their relationship fails. Prior to moving in together, or after they have started living together, an opposite sex couple can sign a domestic partnership agreement or a cohabitation agreement to articulate their rights and obligations to each other and their intent if the relationship fails. These written expressions of intent help couples on breakup, and help the court determine what the actual intent was between the couple when times were good.

Domestic partners may start off with the best of intent, but the accumulation of assets in one partner’s name can create a power imbalance on breakup. Many domestic partners find themselves asked to leave and cut off many years into a partnership.  The lack of a marriage doesn’t mean that the discarded partner is without rights. A written agreement isn’t necessary to form a common law domestic partnership in Oregon, and instead the court looks to the intent of the parties to pool resources for their common benefit during the relationship. This can be shown many ways, including  having joint bank or investment accounts, real estate, retirement plans, or holding themselves out to the public as married. In such cases one partner can sue the other to have an equitable division of the assets accumulated during the relationship. The key differences between a dissolution of a domestic partnership and a dissolution of marriage is that there is no spousal support available in domestic partnership cases, nor is there a presumption of equal contribution.

Our lawyers at Stephens & Margolin LLP can help you unwind your domestic partnership.

Stephens & Margolin LLP

Review for services rendered by Sean Stephens: 5 I would like to take this opportunity to thank, and highly recommend the firm of Stephens & Margolin LLP, and personally thank Sean Stephens who went far beyond my expectations while handling my divorce from the beginning to the end. I never planned or expected to end up in a divorce so I wasn’t prepared for what unknown obstacles would be presented during this process. Working closely with Sean he continued to layout the paths to choose from while making sure there were never any surprises. Understanding this process takes time and effort I can’t say enough about Sean and his firm’s obvious commitment to their clients and achieving the best possible outcome. I want to thank Stephens & Margolin LLP from the bottom of my heart. This firm and their staff are truly exceptional.Lisa Checchi