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What is a Domestic Partnership?

What is a Domestic Partnership?

A Domestic Partnership is a relationship between two persons who are living together but are not joined by marriage. In some states, a domestic partnership sits on par with traditional marriage, thereby entitling the couple to nearly the same rights and benefits as married persons. Further, domestic partner rights can include tax benefits, rights to inherit from their partner and employment benefits among others..

However, many states do not recognize domestic partnerships. Depending on the state, county, or city laws, the couple may not be eligible to receive the privileges and rights that are typically extended to a married couple.

In California, domestic partnerships are formally recognized in Section 297 of the Family Code. The Family Code defines a domestic partnership as “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.”

Domestic partnerships in California are established when both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State and are able to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Neither person is currently married or is in another domestic partnership with someone else unless that partnership has been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
  • The two persons are not related by blood.
  • Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
  • Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership.
  • Both persons are members of the same sex.
  • Persons of opposite sexes may not be involved in a  domestic partnership unless one or both of the persons are over 62 years of age.

For couples who meet the criteria outlined above, they will be able to submit an application to register their domestic partnership, therefore, providing the domestic partners with legal recognition of their relationship and also making it possible to take advantage of the various legal benefits domestic partners are entitled to. The benefits are similar to those enjoyed, traditionally, by married couples. When a domestic partnership is registered it also means that in the event the couple no longer wishes to remain in a domestic partnership, they must formally request permission from a court or other authority to dissolve their partnership.

An experienced family law attorney can assist you in defining a domestic partnership, completing any applications required to register the partnership and explain what rights and obligations domestic partners have.


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