You’ve decided to call it quits on your domestic partnership. It’s not a marriage, so you should be able to walk away, right? Not so fast. While each state views them differently, domestic partnerships are legally recognized unions that, when dissolved, must be ended lawfully.

In some states, you can end a domestic partnership simply by filing a Notice of Termination. In other states, you must complete divorce or annulment proceedings. As the federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships, the tax consequences of ending one are different from divorces: support payments would not apply to federal tax returns.

As Pennsylvania does not recognize domestic partnerships either, any separation or dissolution of the partnership would be dictated by the terms of a cohabitation agreement, if one is in place. This document would identify both parties’ assets and how each asset will be treated when the parties to the agreement are no longer a couple.

Interestingly, Philadelphia does recognize domestic partnerships: the city has created an exemption for same-sex domestic partnerships for employees in city government. These individuals are entitled to the same healthcare and leave benefits as spouses.

In Philadelphia, either partner in a domestic partnership can choose to end it. The partnership automatically ends if one partner dies or enters another relationship. The couple must notify the city by filing a termination statement. If both partners do not sign the statement, then an additional document is filed, affirming that the other life partner has been notified by certified or registered mail. The partnership is terminated 60 days from the filing date.

The laws surrounding domestic partnerships and cohabitation agreements can be confusing. If you are entering into – or ending – one, it may help both you and your partner to talk to an experienced family law attorney in Bucks County. Contact us at 215-340-2207 or email