Domestic Partnerships And You

If you and your partner have decided to forgo wedding vows and just cohabitate, you are part of a growing movement. More than ever, couples are living together without getting married. While this decision could indicate a more carefree approach to living, it could also lead to problems if you don't fully understand your rights and protections under the law. To learn more, read on.

Recognizing Domestic Partnerships

Not all states have provisions in place for dealing with domestic partnerships, but for those living in the below states, you can expect to receive some the same benefits that the married people do.

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Washington D.C.
  • New York City
  • San Francisco

What Protections and Benefits You Can Expect

For those living the above states, you can expect the following:

  • Health insurance coverage from your partner.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility.
  • Government aid eligibility, such as low cost housing and food stamps.
  • Next-of-kin status for medical purposes.
  • Beneficiary privileges for retirement plans.
  • Ability to file your taxes as "married filing jointly" for state tax returns.

Domestic Partner Benefits No Matter Where You Live

  1. Regardless of whether or not your state recognizes domestic partnerships, if one of you works for certain major corporations, you may still be able to enjoy some perks normally associated with married couples. These companies will provide, with proof of a domestic partnership, valuable benefits like health insurance. Proof normally involves showing a lease or mortgage containing both names.
  2. You can add your partner (or anyone else) onto your property deed with a quit claim deed transaction. There are several deed categories that can be utilized, such as joint ownership and joint tenancy.
  3. If you and your partner have children from another relationship, you may want to take steps to legally adopt those children. If you and your partner separate, adoption will afford you legal rights to custody and visitation.
  4. Update your will to ensure that your domestic partner is provided for specifically. Depending upon your state, you may or may not automatically inherit the estate of your partner upon death.

No matter what state you and your partner live in, consider making a private domestic partnership agreement. This agreement can address not only day-to-day financial issues, but issues like who will take the family pet if you separate. While these agreements may not be legally binding, the presence of the agreement could carry some weight if problems arise. Contact a family law attorney for information about domestic partnership agreements. Visit websites like for more information.