Ending a Domestic Partnership in Wisconsin
In 2009, Wisconsin enacted law which gave same-sex couples limited rights as domestic partners. The Wisconsin Domestic Partnership registry allowed these couples to have important protections under the law which were not allowed at that time. Since the creation of the registry, same-sex marriage has become legal in Wisconsin and all other states. Consequently, as of April 1, 2018, the state no longer accepts applications for domestic partnership status. However, registered domestic partners who wish to end their relationship will have to take certain steps under the law.
Those who were registered domestic partners in Wisconsin before the April 1, 2018 deadline continue to have rights such as:
- being able to obtain insurance for a partner
- taking family medical leave (FMLA) for their ill or terminal partner
- having real estate transfer rights
- having hospital and jail visitation access
- being able to inherit from a partner who dies without a will
Although these partners do not share the same rights as married couples in Wisconsin, there are requirements for ending the legal arrangement.
Ending a divorce vs. Ending a domestic partnership
Unlike divorce, which requires that parties serve one another legal papers and divide their income, assets, and debts according to community property laws, domestic partners can terminate their partnership by filing certain forms. Specifically, a partner can end the legal relationship by completing a “notice of termination of domestic partnership” form with the county clerk who issued his or her “declaration of domestic partnership” and by paying a fee. One or both partners must sign and have this document notarized. However, if only one partner signs, they will have to file an affidavit with the county clerk which represents that the absent party has been properly served in writing with notice that the form is being filed. Under certain circumstances, the filing partner may be able to give the other notice by publication.
After the notice of termination of domestic partnership is signed, the county clerk must give the filing partner a certificate of termination of domestic partnership. The domestic partner then must submit the record of termination of domestic partnership to the register of deeds of the county where the domestic partnership was first recorded. The termination is final 90 days later.