A domestic partnership agreement is a document like a prenuptial agreement that explains the legal rights and responsibilities of each partner when a couple decides to enter a domestic partnership. Since a domestic partnership functions like a marriage, just as is the case in a marriage, domestic partners must determine how to handle financial issues and issues regarding any children brought into or adopted into the domestic partnership.
A domestic partnership agreement can help reduce the risk related to potential disputes regarding financial assets by clarifying ownership of property during the partnership or provide guidance for dividing property if the couple decides to separate or formally dissolve their partnership. An agreement may also help reduce the potential for litigation arising out of disputes upon separation or dissolution by specifying the way a dispute will be resolved such as mandating that the parties engage arbitration of some other form of alternative dispute resolution.
A domestic partnership agreement can address a wide variety of subjects:
- Responsibilities regarding child support and visitation
- How assets brought into the partnership will be treated
- How assets acquired during the partnership will be share during the partnership and in the event of a separation or dissolution.
- How any business assets owned by each partner will be treated considering the domestic partnership. This may entail prohibiting a partner from attempting to treat one partner’s business as a domestic partnership asset upon separation or dissolution.
- In the event of the death or disability of one partner how assets acquired during the partnership or brought into the partnership will be treated.
- The way disputes that arise as part of a separation or dissolution will be handled.
For couples that reside in states that recognize domestic partnerships, any issues regarding the validity of a domestic partnership agreement would be handled by the courts in that states. However, the situation becomes more difficult when a couple decides to move together and then experience a life event which requires interpretation of the agreement in a state that does not have domestic partnership laws. Or if the couple separate and one party moves to a non-domestic partnership state. To handle this type of situation, it is important to consult with an attorney who can advise partners on how to address the possibility of enforcing an agreement in a non-domestic partnership state.
An attorney experienced in drafting and interpreting domestic partnership agreements can best assist you when presented with a question regarding enforcing or drafting these agreements.