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Domestic Partnerships

Domestic Partnerships

Marriage is not a practical option for every couple. Every couple has different needs, and no situation is universal. Despite this, there are legal benefits to marriage that a couple might struggle if they do not have. There are alternatives available for couples who are not seeking marriage but want to add legal stability to their relationship. One option is a domestic partnership, also known as a civil union, which is a legal relationship between two unmarried adults. Notably, domestic partnerships are not recognized in all states, or even necessarily statewide. Here’s what you need to know about a domestic partnership. 

Obtaining a Domestic Partnership Certificate

In California, there are specific limitations for domestic partnerships. The status is available for opposite-sex and same-sex couples over age 18. Opposite-sex couples sometimes have more limited access since certain states require that at least one partner be 62 or older. Regardless of the couple’s gender composition, partners must be in a committed relationship, living in the same home and financially dependent on each other to be eligible. A committed relationship is defined as a monogamous relationship that has lasted longer than six months. If a couple fulfills these requirements, they can register for a domestic partnership certificate. 

How You Can Benefit

Domestic partnerships are appealing because they provide additional stability to a relationship. While not as legally binding as marriage, the advantages are comparative. Individuals involved in this partnership have access to benefits that they would not have otherwise, making this a great option. Some of the benefits include: 

  • Hospital Visitation: Many hospitals place restrictions on who can visit a patient, which typically limits visitors to those with biological or familial relations. These restrictions are historically biased against couples who are not married.   
  • Insurance & Health Care: The couple can often have benefits that are typically associated with married couples, such as insurance that extends to the other partner.  
  • Medical and Family Leave from Employment: You are eligible for employment benefits such as long-term disability and medical leave. If your partner is sick, you can be granted leave to provide care.
  • Inheritance Rights: Partners have the right of survivorship. In the case that one partner passes away, there are some protections in place regarding inheritance of money or other valuable property shared in the relationship. This does not extend to Social Security benefits. 

In California, domestic partnerships are particularly beneficial because they hold the same state-level legal weight as marriage. However, this is not true for federal laws or domestic partnerships formed outside of California. For instance, a partner in a domestic partnership cannot receive Social Security benefits if the other partner passes away. This is one reason why it’s important for couples to carefully consider their options beforehand. 

A Family Law Attorney Can Help

If you and your partner are seeking a domestic partnership, your best bet is to talk with a family law attorney for legal guidance. Our attorneys at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP have assisted clients with domestic partnership matters in the past. Give us a call today, and we can discuss your situation during a consultation.

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