What to Know About Domestic Partnership in California

Are you thinking about entering a domestic partnership? Marriage is a big commitment that doesn’t fit every person’s lifestyle. With legal rights for couples changing across the country, there are now different ways that partners can further their relationships without the need to tie the knot.

Domestic partnership has become far more common over the years, as more and more couples opt to skip nuptials, but remain in committed relationships. 

Domestic partnerships don’t even require individuals to be romantically involved. Domestic partnerships can also be between two people who live together or roommates that depend on each other. Today, we will take a closer look at domestic partnership and how it is defined in California state law.

What Is a Domestic Partnership?

A domestic partnership doesn’t have federal guidelines, and as such the federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships. Normally, domestic partnership guidelines are set by a specific state.

Domestic partnerships are usually unmarried couples committed to each other in the much the same ways that a married couple would be. Traditionally, domestic partners were often those in same-sex relationships, as marriage was not an option afforded them. This changed, however, due to marriage equality laws enacted by the Obergefell v. Hodges case, federally legalizing same-sex marriage, and Senate Bill 30 of 2019, which removed restrictions on sex and age in the case of domestic partnerships in the State of California.

Many aspects factor into a domestic partnership. 

Domestic partners can be a couple who raise a child together or mix their finances as long as they are unmarried and do not possess a marriage certificate.

These Couples Should Be Cautious

Because the Federal government will not recognize certain domestic partnerships, there are several groups of people who should be extremely cautious about whether or not they should decide to register as a domestic partnership. 

  • Bination Couples. Bination couples are couples in which one of the partners is not a United States citizen. This person is usually in the US without proper documentation or on a non-immigrant visa.
  • SSI or Medi-Cal Recipients. Couples in which one party, or both, receive benefits. One, or both, could potentially risk the loss of benefits if entering into a domestic partnership. 
  • Adopting Couples. Couples who are in the process of, or are considering adoption of a child from another country. Entering into a domestic partnership could alter the status of the acceptance application. 
  • Military Couples. Couples who are in the military should be cautious about the changes that could happen should they choose to enter into a domestic partnership. 

For any individual or couples in any of these mentioned situations, it is recommended one seek legal counsel before making the final decision to register as a domestic partnership in the state of California. 

How to Register for a Domestic Partnership

Suppose you want to register for a domestic partnership in the state of California. In that case, you can either download and fill out a Declaration of Domestic Partnership form, pick the form up at your local county registrar’s office, or consult with a legal document preparation service or attorney.

Both you and your partner must be present when signing the form and have the form notarized. You can then mail it to your Secretary of State’s office with a $33 fee. When getting the form signed, you will need to attest that:

  • You meet all requirements for a domestic partnership.
  • You agree that you would have your case heard in a California court if needed for a separation from your partnership, even if you both do not reside in the state of California anymore.
  • The representations of the form are made to be accurate, correct and have no omission of facts to the best of your knowledge.

Eligibility to Register As Domestic Partners

To be eligible to register as domestic partners the following requirements must be met:

  • Both persons in the partnership share a common residence.
  • Neither person can be married to someone else. 
  • Neither person can be in a domestic partnership with someone else.
  • The two persons in the relationship cannot be related by blood in any way that would prevent them from being married to each other in the state of California.
  • Both persons must be at least 18-years-old.
  • Both persons have the mental capability to consent to the relationship.

Benefits of a Domestic Partnership

A domestic partnership comes with many of the same benefits as being in a marriage, however there are some differences. 

  • Domestic partners cannot file federal joint tax returns as married couples can.
  • Domestic partnerships are state-specific, so federal law does not recognize nor protect domestic partners as it does married couples.
  • Some benefits and insurance policies do not recognize domestic partnerships in the same way they do marriages, and are not available to partners.

However, there are still several benefits to domestic partnerships:

  • Couples can live together and receive many of the same benefits as married couples per their state’s laws.
  • Because domestic partners cannot file federal tax returns jointly, they avoid the marriage tax penalty.
  • For couples who wish to avoid the complications of religious connections to marriage, they can file for domestic partnership without the need to engage in a formal marriage ceremony.

Get Legal Document Advice for Your Domestic Partnership

A domestic partnership is a fantastic option for partners who do not wish to go through the marriage process, but are committed and cohabitating. If you are looking to get many of the benefits of marriage without a formal ceremony, but are unsure where to start, we can help you.

With over 20 years of legal experience at Valley Divorce Services, our legal document assistants (LDAs) provide self-representing litigants with legal documentation assistance. We can perform the following legal document services for you in connection with a legal matter in which you are representing yourself:

  • We can type or otherwise complete, as you specifically direct, legal documents that you have selected;
  • We can provide you general published factual legal information that has been written or approved by an attorney to help you represent yourself;
  • We can provide you published legal documents;
  • We can file and serve legal forms and documents as you specifically direct;
  • We can work in conjunction with limited-scope representation between lawyers and clients.

Request a free legal consultation today for more information on how we can help you plan for your future.