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Registered Domestic Partnership Law in California

Domestic Partnerships Provide an Alternative
to Same-Sex Marriage

Following the US Supreme Court’s ruling in June 2013 which left in place the Ninth Circuit Court’s repeal of Proposition 8, same-sex marriages are once again legal in California for gay and lesbian couples who choose to get married.

But for those who, for one reason or another, choose not to marry, same-sex couples still have the right to have their relationships recognized by the state by filing for a registered domestic partnership. Couples who have their partnerships registered with the Secretary of State possess almost all of the same rights and protections (and also have the same responsibilities) given to or imposed upon married spouses.

These include:

  • The right for either partner to take the other partner’s surname after registration.
  • Making health care decisions for each other in certain circumstances.
  • Hospital and jail visitation rights.
  • Access to family health insurance plans.
  • Spousal insurance policies (auto, life, homeowners etc.).
  • Sick care and similar family leave.
  • Presumption that both members of the partnership are the parents of a child born into the partnership.
  • The same parental rights and responsibilities granted to and imposed upon spouses in a marriage.
  • Stepparent adoption procedures.
  • The obligation to file state tax returns as a married couple (beginning in 2007).
  • Community property rights and responsibilities.
  • The same property tax provisions otherwise available only to married couples.
  • Responsibility for the partner’s debts.
  • Supervision of the Superior Court of California over dissolution and nullity proceedings.
  • The right to request partner support (alimony) upon dissolution of the partnership (divorce).
  • Rights involving wills, intestate succession, conservatorships and trusts.
  • Access to some survivor pension benefits.
  • The right to claim inheritance rights as a putative spouse.
  • Suing for wrongful death of a domestic partner.

There are, however, differences. While domestic partners receive all of the benefits of marriage under California state law, federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships. Also, some states and countries that recognize California same-sex marriages may or may not recognize same-sex domestic partnerships contracted in California.

If you are considering formalizing your same-sex relationship through marriage or a registered domestic partnership, it is important that you discuss the possible legal implications of each option with one of our experienced and knowledgeable domestic partnership attorneys. For more information on why it may be in your best interest to consider both marriage and a registered domestic partnership, see our article “When Same Sex Marriage Isn’t Enough” on the Pride Legal News Blog.

Find a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney for the Gay Community

Pride Legal has excellent LGBT domestic partnership attorneys in our network that serve the Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego County areas. Your selection of a skilled lawyer will help you evaluate your options in order to provide you with the best possible legal protection.

Contact a Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnership Attorney for more information about your options.

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