Domestic partnerships or civil unions as they are sometimes called are similar to marriage with the obvious difference that a couple in a domestic partnership are not formally married. A domestic partnership is a legal arrangement much like marriage in that the law recognizes that a couple intends to remain together and will be sharing in activities such as paying bills, acquiring assets and in some cases raising their children. In most states, domestic partnerships are available to same sex couples and couples over the age of 62 years old.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges which forced states to recognize same sex marriage domestic partnerships served as a popular substitute to marriage for couples who wanted to formalize their relationship in the eyes of the law but were unable to do so considering prohibitions against same-sex marriages. In the wake of the Obergefell decision, which allowed same sex couples the right to marry, domestic partnership laws remained on the books for same sex couples and couples for the age of 62 who wished to marry.
Registered Domestic Partnerships
Many domestic partners choose to register their partnership to formalize and make a record of the relationship in the event of a situation in which either partner would be required to make use of the many benefits available to domestic partners.
Partners who wish to register their partnership generally must appear in person at a courthouse or other designated government office, pay a fee, submit an application, and provide documentation that they satisfy the registration requirements established by that jurisdiction.
Requirements for a Domestic Partnership
A valid domestic partnership requires that the two partners are committed to living in an intimate and committed relationship. Neither person can be married to someone else or involved in another domestic partnership that has not been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity. Much similar to that of marriage, the couple must not be related by blood, must be at least 18 years of age and are members of the same sex. However, opposite sex couples who are over 62 years of age may enter a legally valid domestic partnership.
Generally, a domestic partnership becomes effective once the appropriate paperwork is filed and approved by the appropriate authority.
An experienced family law attorney can assist you by explaining domestic partnership laws and what benefits registered domestic partners are entitled to. It is important to find an attorney who has experience preparing domestic partnership applications and can assist with outlining the benefits available to domestic partners.