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Domestic Partnerships vs Legal Marriage: What are the Main Differences?

Domestic Partnerships vs Legal Marriage: What are the Main Differences?It wasn’t long ago that a gay couple that wanted to commit to one another had few options. One of those was to have a domestic partnership. These are very similar to what you would see called civil unions in other states and though they share some things in common with marriage, they are also different. Read on to learn more. If you have questions about domestic partnership, marriage, or divorce, please contact a family law attorney at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation.

There are three main differences between domestic partnerships and legal marriage

In the state of California, there are several main differences between a domestic partnership and a legal marriage. People in a domestic partnership are those who meet very specific legal relationship requirements. Functionally it is similar to a marriage but legally it is quite different.

The purpose of domestic partnerships

California created domestic partnerships in 1999 to try and even the ground for same-sex couples who could not legally marry. In 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage legal for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. The main issue that the California legislature hoped to address was the fact that same-sex couples did not have rights to share insurance benefits or to visit each other in the hospital. The domestic partnership option was only available to same-sex couples or couples in which one party was at least 62 years old.

Other states don’t always recognize domestic partnerships

In almost all situations if a couple gets legally married in one state or country, it will be honored in other states and countries. The same is not true for domestic partnerships. If a couple moves from California with their domestic partnership to another state that allows civil unions or domestic partnerships, then their domestic partnership will likely be honored. However, it is important to note that it may not come with the same rights due to California’s domestic partnership laws being so generous.

Domestic partnerships are easier to obtain

If you want to get married, you must get a license, have a ceremony, and then register the marriage. This comes with costs of filing the license, potentially paying for notaries, and of course the cost of working with a member of the clergy or another official. In most cases, it is much easier to get a domestic partnership. Though there are filing fees and signatures that need to be notarized, there is no requirement for a ceremony and no one needs to hire a judge or a priest to get it done.

Does it make sense to file a domestic partnership in today’s climate? Probably not. There are not as many right as are included in a marriage and since marriage is extended to everyone in California, most people would prefer a marriage. If you are thinking about getting married and want to cover your bases by creating a pre-nuptial agreement, reach out to an experienced attorney today.


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