American Personal Rights Home Domestic Partnerships: Legal Rights and How to File an Affidavit

Domestic Partnerships: Legal Rights and How to File an Affidavit

A domestic partnership is a legally recognized relationship between two individuals who live together and share a domestic life but are not married. This arrangement provides couples with certain legal rights and benefits, though these can vary significantly from one state to another.

States Recognizing Domestic Partnerships

Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia acknowledge domestic partnerships as legal relationships: California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Hawaii, this is referred to as a “reciprocal beneficiary” relationship.

Requirements for a Domestic Partnership

The requirements for establishing a domestic partnership differ by location. For instance, in Maine, partners should prove they have been living together for at least 12 months.

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In New Jersey, evidence of a common residence, such as a joint mortgage, lease, bank account, or vehicle ownership, is sufficient.

Historical Context

Domestic partnerships emerged from the movement for equal rights for same-sex couples in the 1980s, as same-sex marriage was not permitted at the time. While some states still only recognize same-sex partnerships as domestic partnerships, the legal landscape continues to evolve. Seeking advice from a same sex family law attorney can help navigate these changes.

Legal Rights and Limitations

It’s important to note that domestic partnerships do not guarantee the same legal rights and benefits as marriage, which is recognized by the federal government. This means domestic partners cannot access federal benefits like spousal immigration status or Social Security survivor benefits. However, they do provide certain state-level benefits, including health insurance, bereavement benefits, inheritance rights, and visitation rights in jails and hospitals.

Filing an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership

To formalize a domestic partnership, couples need to file an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership. This document identifies the partners, declaring they are over 18, mentally competent, not related by blood, not in another partnership, and engaged in a mutually supportive relationship. The affidavit must be signed before a witness and a notary public, and then filed with the city clerk’s office, often for a fee.

Understanding the specific laws and benefits in your state is crucial for making informed decisions about domestic partnerships.


Understand the Specific Laws and Benefits in Your State

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