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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

This Note examines currently available dissolution procedures for same-sex couples in domestic partnerships, civil unions, and reciprocal beneficiary relationships. It compares the informal dissolution proceedings in California and Hawaii to the proceedings in Vermont and several European countries that more closely resemble traditional divorce actions. More formal dissolution procedures that require same-sex couples to go to court to dissolve their unions allow courts, rather than fighting couples, to determine such contentious issues as support, property division, and child custody and visitation. Although same-sex couples cannot legally marry in the United States, several states have created alternatives which extend some of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. This Note argues that states adopting such alternatives should look to European models and create formal dissolution proceedings that utilize the experience and neutrality of the existing judicial system to help same-sex couples dissolve their relationships according to existing legal principles. This will alleviate much of the uncertainty that currently exists for same-sex couples when their relationships end.

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