Family Practice: Domestic Partnership
The law firm of Lvovich & Szucsko, P.C. helps clients with San Francisco family law issues related to domestic partnership in California. Laws governing domestic partnerships bear many similarities to California matrimonial law.
Civil unions and domestic partnerships
California was the first state to enact domestic partnership registration in 1999. Under California law, a domestic partnership is defined as:
- Two adults of the same sex who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.
- Two equally committed adults of the opposite sex if one or both partners are over age 62 and one or both partners meet specified eligibility criteria under the Social Security Act.
To create a domestic partnership, both partners must share a common residence, and may not be married or a partner in a previous domestic partnership that has not been dissolved or annulled. For a domestic partnership to be official, the partners must register a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State.
California uses the term domestic partnerships instead of civil unions when referring to same sex unions. Domestic partners share many of the same benefits as married couples, such as:
- Hospital and jail visitation rights
- Rights to be considered next of kin if one partner dies
- Participation in family health insurance plans
- Right to file a wrongful death lawsuit
- Married couple property tax provisions
- Community property rights
- Right to alimony if the partnership is dissolved
- Paternal rights equal to married spouses
- Right to be deemed a putative spouse. (In domestic partnerships, the putative spouse doctrine is where one domestic partner has a reasonable, good faith belief that his or her domestic partnership was validly registered with the California Secretary of State. Such putative spouses are still granted legal rights based on their good faith belief.)
Since domestic partnerships were established in 1999, the California legislature passed further laws to regulate and provide more benefits for domestic partners. Understanding your legal rights when entering into a domestic partnership can help you avoid later conflicts. Couples seeking to dissolve a domestic partnership need the same type of legal help as those pursuing divorce. To speak with a knowledgeable attorney call 415-392-2560 or contact us online today.