Claremont LGBT Domestic Partnership Attorney
A domestic partnership is a legal relationship available in California that pre-dates the legalization of same-sex marriage. Domestic partnerships were intended to offer same-sex couples “the same rights, protections, and benefits, and … the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law …” as married couples. Even though same-sex marriage is now legal across the country, California and other states still have laws on the books allowing same-sex couples and certain opposite-sex couples to enter new domestic partnerships. Existing domestic partnerships were not automatically converted to marriages upon legalization–they exist as a separate legal arrangement, still recognized under the law.
If you are interested in pursuing a domestic partnership with your partner, or if you have questions about the legal rights and responsibilities under a domestic partnership, contact our Claremont domestic partnership attorneys today.
How Does a Domestic Partnership Compare to Marriage
Domestic partners who register their relationship with the Secretary of State share almost all of the same rights and responsibilities of married couples under California law. The rights of domestic partners include:
- The right for either partner to take the other’s family name after registration
- Making healthcare decisions for your partner
- Visitation rights in a hospital or jail
- Coverage by California’s community property system for property division
- Coverage under your partner’s health, auto, homeowner, accident, and life insurance policies
- Rights to employee family and sick leave under state and federal family leave laws
- Inheritance of a spousal share of your partner’s assets if they pass away
- The same parental rights and responsibilities as married couples (for example, automatic recognition as the second parent if your partner gives birth, and the right to adopt as a step-parent)
- Ability to sue for the wrongful death of your partner
- Right to unemployment benefits if you are forced to relocate because of your partner’s job
- Right not to testify in court against your partner
It is important to note that these rights and responsibilities are specific to California law. As discussed below, the federal government and other states may not recognize your domestic partnership.
How are Domestic Partnerships Different from Marriage
Domestic partnership is specific to the law of California and a handful of other states. Not all states recognize domestic partnerships. Domestic partners who move to other states may not get the benefit of all of the rights granted under California law.
The federal government recognizes domestic partnerships only in a very limited capacity. Domestic partners are not eligible to file their taxes separately or jointly with “married” status, are not automatically considered a “head of household,” and only one of the partners can claim a dependent child rather than both. Domestic partners are not entitled to their partner’s Social Security benefits or other federal benefits that married couples receive. Speak with a California domestic partnership attorney to understand your rights as a registered domestic partner.
Ending a Domestic Partnership
There are two ways to end a domestic partnership in California: (1) File a Notice of Termination with the California Secretary of State or (2) Obtain a Petition of Dissolution from the Superior Court.
The Notice of Termination is much quicker and easier, but it is only available to couples under certain circumstances. For example, the couple must have been together for less than five years, share no children, and not jointly own any real estate. There is no hearing or appeal, meaning the court will not help you with matters such as property division. Your domestic partnership attorney can advise you as to whether you qualify for termination and whether it is optimal for your family’s circumstances.
To divide property, seek alimony, and secure child support, domestic partners will have to basically go through a divorce, just like a married couple, and secure a Petition of Dissolution from the Superior Court. California rules on community property, child custody, child support, alimony, etc., apply, so it is important to retain a knowledgeable California divorce attorney to represent you if you are seeking to dissolve a domestic partnership.
Get Sound Advice and Professional Assistance Pursuing a Collaborative Divorce in California
For dedicated, efficient, and effective help with a domestic partnership or with other family law issues in California, contact a California family law attorney at the Claremont offices of Blasser Law at 909-843-6363.