Hire an Experienced Domestic Partnership Attorney To Protect Your Rights
If you are one-half of a domestic partnership and live in states that recognizes this, you become entitled to similar rights as opposite-sex married couples. An experienced attorney can review the details of your relationship to see what rights and privileges you and your partner have access to.
What Is a Domestic Partnership?
A domestic partnership is a romantic relationship between two unmarried adults who live together and share resources. More often than not, they exist to close the wide gap between rights granted to married heterosexual couples and LGBTQ couples who were not legally able to marry until recently. Heterosexual couples can enter domestic partnerships in some jurisdictions, but the laws exist primarily for same-sex protections.
Unfortunately, the federal government and several states do not recognize domestic partnerships. This can make it difficult for people in these unions to gain the rights they should be entitled to and can create frustration when traveling or moving. Even so, many private organizations help to further close the gap, such as employers that provide health insurance to the other partner, regardless of state laws.
What Are the Benefits of a Domestic Partnership?
If you are in a registered domestic partnership, the benefits you receive vary depending on which state you live in. Here are some common domestic relationship benefits you get to enjoy with your partner:
- Paid family leave for adoptions and when taking care of a sick partner
- Bereavement leave
- The right to make medical decisions for your partner
- Visitation rights in jail or prison
- Death benefits, such as inheriting property
- Parental rights of children brought into the union through adoption or birth
Domestic partnerships are easier to end than marriages and there is no federal tax penalty when couples both have high incomes. This makes it an attractive option for many people.
What Are the Requirements for a Domestic Partnership?
In order to apply for and enter a domestic partnership, you must meet certain requirements. These requirements vary from state to state. However, there are some common requirements that are generally true for all:
- Both partners must be at least 18 years of age.
- Neither partner may be in a separate marriage or domestic partnership.
- You may not be a blood relative to your partner.
- You must be living in the same home as your partner.
- Both partners must be mentally competent to enter a contract.
- You must agree to be mutually responsible for each other’s welfare and basic living expenses.
- Your relationship must be long-term; how long varies by state.
For your application, both partners must have a valid government-issued ID with a photo. Suitable documents include your driver’s license or passport. Secondly, you must pay a registration filing fee, which typically costs from $25 to $75. You can generally pay by cash, credit, debit, money order, or check.
What Is the Process for Registering a Domestic Partnership?
Applying for registration can be complicated if you don’t do your due diligence beforehand. Because the process and the benefits can vary widely from state to state, it’s important to take the time to research and prepare prior to submitting an application. Otherwise, you may find that you aren’t even eligible for a domestic partnership or you may not receive the benefits you expected.
Step 1: Determine If Your State Offers Domestic Partnership Benefits
After same-sex marriages became federally legal, many states ceased to offer domestic partnerships. There are still some states, however, that offer them to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The following jurisdictions still recognize domestic partnerships:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
Some states may also offer domestic partnerships in specific towns or cities, but not statewide. Other states also offer civil unions instead of domestic partnerships, which offer similar benefits. If you’re unsure whether your state offers domestic partnerships and what the requirements may be, it’s important to seek legal counsel.
Step 2: Consult with an Attorney
Even in states that recognize domestic partnerships from other regions, the benefits afforded in that area might differ. Because of this, many people check in with a local attorney whenever they move states to see how the decision to move affects the legal aspects of their relationships. Here are some questions you should ask an attorney when you reach out:
- Who qualifies for a domestic relationship?
- Is there a minimum amount of years we need to be together?
- How can one end a domestic partnership?
- What if my partner is not yet able to move with me?
- What percentage of our living expenses do we need to share?
- How will employers identify domestic partners?
An attorney can answer all of these questions and more. Note that some answers might vary based on allowances made by private organizations, such as employers.
Step 3: Complete the Application
Once you’ve learned about the requirements for applying for a domestic partnership and you’ve found you and your partner to be eligible, it’s time to complete the application. The application is straightforward and easy. However, if you feel anxious about how to answer particular questions, an attorney can help.
Step 4: File the Application and Pay the Fee
Once you’ve completed the application, you can then file it with your county or city to be registered as a domestic partnership. It’s important to double-check that you’re filing the form with the correct jurisdiction. Remember that sometimes cities offer domestic partnerships but the state does not.
Work with an Experienced Local Attorney
Creating a domestic partnership is much easier than ending one. Even so, both might require some legal assistance to ensure you are clear on the laws involved as you go through the process. This is especially important when moving across state lines.
Working with an experienced lawyer can help you and your partner protect your rights and come to amicable solutions as challenges arise. Let us connect you with the right attorney for your needs in your local area.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!