Distinguishing Domestic Partnerships from Marriage

Distinguishing domestic partnerships from marriage

Domestic partnerships have historically been an alternative to marriage for same-sex couples. In light of the 2015 US Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all states, there are still states that have retained this designation.

Marriages and domestic partnerships

A marriage is considerably different that domestic partnerships. First and foremost, all states recognize marriage, unlike only a handful recognizing domestic partnerships. This can be very important for domestic partners when it comes to the ability to share in state and federal benefits afforded to married couples. It is also important when it comes to travel and relocation. Although your domestic partnership may be recognized in the previous state, there is no guarantee it will be recognized in the new state.

What’s the difference?

Beyond the few states that recognize domestic partnerships, another significant difference is that this alternative relationship is not recognized at the federal level. Again, significantly impacting the availability of benefits afforded to married couples. Furthermore, this loss of benefits crosses into immigration, thus not permitting the ability to petition a non-citizen partner as in marriage.

Although domestic partners share the same feelings for each other as in marriages, they are not considered to be family from a legal perspective. This can be a very disheartening aspect for the couples. In light of this, there are employers who recognize these relationships and extend some benefits that are offered to their married counterparts.

Another significant area that is distinguished is how things are handled when a domestic partner passes. When a spouse dies in a marriage, inheritance of assets usually transfers to the surviving spouse without incurring taxes. Unlike the married couple, domestic partners that inherit their partner’s assets are subject to taxes.

Ultimately, although there are significant differences from legal and recognition perspectives, a domestic partnership doesn’t diminish the value of the commitment, love, and caring.

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