Domestic Partnerships

What is domestic partnership?

In California, a domestic partnership is a legal relationship, similar to marriage, which grants certain rights to same-sex couples 18 and older, and to opposite-sex couples where at least one of the partners is 62 or older. It is important to remember, however, that while domestic partnerships are recognized under California law, they are not recognized under Federal law.

The United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges did not invalidate or change any of the California laws related to registered domestic partnerships. While same sex marriage is now legal under both California and Federal law, couples who prefer to register as domestic partners instead of getting married, can still do so if they meet all of the requirements of Family Code § 297.

What is the process of establishing a registered domestic partnership?

The process of establishing a registered domestic partnership is quite different than that of entering into traditional marriage. The domestic partnership must be registered with the California Secretary of State by completing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership. The signatures of both partners must be notarized. The complete Declaration of Domestic Partnership must be submitted to the California Secretary of state along with a payment of the appropriate fee.

While many of the rights of domestic partners are similar or the same to those of legally married couples, certain rights are different, especially the rights derived from federal law (such as Social Security benefits).

Because the Family Law Code is ever changing, please contact an experienced family law attorney if you have any questions related to domestic partnerships.