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Registering for Domestic Partnership

Registering for Domestic Partnership

To enjoy the full rights afforded to domestic partnerships, a couple need to register the same. Registration of a domestic partnership allows the partnership to be legally recognized by the state. Once a domestic partnership is registered, rights and benefits allowed to domestic partners under the law will be available.

Unregistered domestic partnerships involve a situation in which a couple, who may meet all the requirements of a domestic partnership, have not completed the process of formally applying for a domestic partnership. Unregistered domestic partners are not entitled to the rights and benefits registered domestic partners enjoy.  

Requirements for domestic partnership

To qualify as a registered domestic partnership, the partners must meet the legal definition of a domestic partnership and submit the necessary application to receive formal recognition of your partnership.   

To receive legal recognition of a domestic partnership, both partners must be over 18, or have obtained a court order granting permission to establish a domestic partnership while under the age of 18, are of the same sex, or are opposite sex and both partners are 62 years of age and intend to live together as partners.

How to register for domestic partnership

A couple who meet these legal requirements can then register their domestic partnership with the legal authority who is responsible for registering a domestic partnership in your state. For example, in California, the California Secretary of State is responsible for registering domestic partnerships. California couples have to register their partnership by completing what is known as a Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form, with the partners’ signatures notarized, and submit the form with the appropriate fee.

Once a domestic partnership is registered it becomes a part of the official record, just like when a marriage is registered. Once the domestic partnership is registered and becomes legally recognized as part of the official record, it cannot be disputed as being invalid. This legitimacy is particularly important if a partner’s family member attempts to challenge a partner’s right to his or her domestic partner’s estate or benefits upon their death.

Confidential Domestic Partnerships

Some states including California allow domestic partners to confidentially register the same. Normally, domestic partnerships are a part of the public record. In the case of confidential domestic partnerships, the names and addresses of the partners and any other associated records will be sealed from public view. For couples who value their privacy, this confidentiality can be a valuable resource.  

Rights and privileges of domestic partnership

A couple in a registered domestic partnership qualify as each other’s family members. They are entitled to most of the rights that are extended to the family of an individual. Visitation rights in state operated hospitals, in correctional  and detention facilities, healthcare benefits by state, tenancy and occupancy rights and other rights which a person’s family members are entitled to are extended to the partner of the domestic partnership arrangement.

An experienced family law attorney can assist you by explaining what a registered domestic partnership is and what benefits registered domestic partners are entitled to.


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