Originally created to grant basic legal and economic protections to same-sex couples, domestic partnerships are a legal recognition of a couple’s committed, marriage-like relationship. Beforethe US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages across the nation in 2015, only certain states acknowledged the validity of same-sex marriages. Some jurisdictions allowed same-sex partners to register as domestic partners, granting them a variety of legal rights and benefits equivalent to those of married couples. These benefits included the right to inherit property, share health insurance coverage, make decisions about medical care, or adopt children together.
Although same-sex marriage is now federally legal, many heterosexual and same-sex couples in California continue to opt for domestic partnerships as an alternative to marriage. This is because they now offer most of the same benefits, and it is far easier to terminate a domestic partnership than to obtain a divorce. Learn more about domestic partnerships by reviewing the information below. Then contact the Riverside domestic partnerships attorneys at the Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic to determine if this option is right for your family.
According to California Family Code Section 297, domestic partners are two adults who have decided to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed legal relationship based on mutual caring. Two people of the opposite or same sex can file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State to establish their domestic partnership in the state if they meet the following requirements:
If one or both parties are under 18 years old but meet all other requirements, they can obtain a court order that grants the underage person or persons the ability to establish a domestic partnership if they obtain written consent from their parents or legal guardians.
To establish a legal domestic partnership in California, you and your partner must meet the requirements above and obtain a court order that grants permission to establish this partnership. Then you can complete a Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form, sign it, have both signatures notarized, and submit the form to the California Secretary of State with the required filing fee. After this form is filed, you will receive a copy of the filed Declaration of Domestic Partnership and a Certificate of Registration of Domestic Partnership. If you are registered as domestic partners in the city you reside, you must still register your domestic partnership with the California registry to acquire the rights provided by state law.
Health insurance providers, the Social Security Administration, or other entities may request proof of domestic partnership before they will offer certain benefits. Under California Family Law, you can provide a certified copy of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership as proof that your domestic partnership is registered with the Secretary of State’s office. A certified copy will feature a purple certification stamp and initials on the last page.
Registered domestic partners in California have all the same rights, protections, and benefits that are granted to spouses in a marriage. They are subject to the same duties, obligations, and responsibilities imposed on married couples that are derived from statutes, court rules, government policies, administrative regulations, and other provisions or sources of law. A current or former domestic partner has the same rights and responsibilities as a current or former spouse. If one partner dies, the surviving partner must be treated the same as a surviving spouse.
In certain situations, if a registered domestic partnership meets the requirements set forth in the California Family Code, the partnership can be terminated by submitting a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership Form with the Secretary of State. To be eligible for this termination, you must meet the following conditions:
If you meet the above requirements, the partnership will legally end six months after the filing of this document as long as neither partner files a Revocation of Termination of Domestic Partnership Form before the date that the termination becomes effective.
If you do not meet the requirements for the procedure detailed above, you must submit a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership to the California Superior Court. You have the right to appear in a court hearing before a judge, and you can expect this process to take a minimum of six months before the court dissolves the partnership and enters a judgment. The court will determine custody of minor children, division of property and obligations, and whether one partner will pay support to the other. If you are also married, you can file a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership and Marriage to terminate both relationships.
Although California treats domestic partners and married couples the same in terms of their rights and responsibilities, the federal government does not always consider them equal for legal or federal tax purposes. Before establishing a domestic partnership, it is crucial to discuss your specific situation with a Riverside domestic partnerships expert lawyer to determine what kinds of benefits you may be entitled to and to ensure you are aware of the federal implications of your partnership.
Whether you are considering entering a domestic partnership or dissolving an existing one, the Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic can help you understand your options and accomplish your goals. Contact us today to discuss your situation and reach the best outcome for your family.
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