Thursday, May 8, 2008
DIVIDING THE PROPERTY WHEN A RELATIONSHIP ENDS
Lambda Legal won a case this week for a California man who thought he was in a registered domestic partnership, only to find when his relationship ended that his partner hadn't filed all the paperwork. The appeals court held that the "putative spouse" doctrine, which protects a spouse who thinks s/he is married but isn't (say her "spouse" lied about getting a divorce from his wife), should apply to those in domestic partnerships. Lambda has spun this case as evidence that only marriage equality can protect partners. But there IS another option, and it's a better one for family policy. Like Washington state, all states should extend the rules designed to do economic justice when a marriage ends to cohabiting unmarried couples. The mainstram American Law Institute recommends this in Chapter 6 of its Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution.