Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In Wright v. Dropik, 514 P.3d 655 (Alaska 2022), the supreme court held that when there is a dispute as to whether two people were in a domestic partnership, the court must consider various factors to determine if the people lived together in a marriage-like relationship. (Id. at 660). Wright and Dropik lived together as girlfriend and boyfriend from 2015 to 2018, split various expenses, and purchased property together. (Id. at 658). When Wright and Dropik broke up, each claimed that the other owed them money for credit card charges and loans for the purchase of property incurred while they were together. (Id.) The trial court held that Wright and Dropik were in a domestic partnership but, according to the supreme court, failed to make factual findings to support the existence of the domestic partnership. (Id. at 660). The supreme court held that a domestic partnership exists when there is an agreement between two people to live together indefinitely and to share resources as if they were married. (Id.). If two people dispute whether or not a domestic partnership existed, the court should consider factors including whether the parties have made joint financial arrangements and filed joint tax returns, held themselves out as husband and wife, raised children together, or incurred joint debts. (Id.). If the court finds that a domestic partnership existed, the court must classify all property as either partnership property or separate property. (Id.). Unless a contract or statute says otherwise, classification of property as joint or separate should be done according to the domestic partners’ intent. (Id.). Remanding to the trial court to make factual findings, the supreme court held that when there is a dispute as to whether two people were in a domestic partnership, the court must consider various factors to determine if the people lived together in a marriage-like relationship. (Id. at 665).