If you didn't have a lawyer assist in the creation of your partnership agreement and that agreement didn't address buyout and/or dissolution, then you certainly need a lawyer now.
How you buy out and/or dissolve the business, at this point, is subject to negotiation.
"My partner feels that with their leaving the business, I will have to buy them out- pay them to leave me with the debt but own the business solely. Somehow that doesn't sit correctly."
You got that right.
Don't take legal advice from your partner.
You can certainly make whatever counter offer you like.
One that comes to my mind: You leave me with the debt you don't get a nickel. (That's not legal advice.)
"Someone (not anyone in law) told me that in this situation, if my partner wanted to leave they would have responsibility for the debt the company owes."
Who were you talking to? The village idiot?
Talk to a lawyer instead.
- The right of the people
- to keep and bear arms,
- shall not be infringed.