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Domestic partnerships for opposite-sex couples

Many California couples spend years together without wanting to get married. However, it is not uncommon for these couples to consider forming a legal union as they begin to get older. Some couples investigating the pros and cons of marriage determine it is not the best option for them. One example of this is a couple who determined that the extra tax responsibility that would come from marriage was not worth the trouble. Couples in the state now have the option of entering into a domestic partnership.

Domestic partnerships

As of January 1, 2020, California family law made it possible for heterosexual couples to enter into domestic partnerships in place of marriage. Domestic partnerships previously included only same-sex couples in the state.

The inclusion of heterosexual couples caused the number of domestic partnership applications to surge during the first six months of 2020. In January alone, more than 2,000 couples filed for domestic partnership status. This number is nearly 10 times more than the 240 domestic partnership applications processed in January of 2019.

Rights and responsibilities of domestic partners

Domestic partners in California enjoy many of the same rights as married couples. These rights include ownership of community property, the ability to share insurance plans and protections in the event of a partner’s death.

Applicants need to fill out and sign a Declaration of Domestic Partnership for a domestic partnership to become official. Individuals who are either married or currently involved in another domestic partnership are not allowed to enter into another domestic partnership. Blood relatives are also not allowed to become domestic partners.

Case against marriage

Some couples opt for a domestic partnership over marriage due to a belief that the institution has been oppressive towards women. One woman explains she was married at 20 years old for the first time and could feel the difference in the treatment she received as soon as the title of “wife” became attached to her name. The woman is now 46 years old and part of a domestic partnership.

Domestic partnerships offer a viable alternative to individuals who do not want to enter into a traditional marriage. Individuals interested in beginning or ending a domestic partnership may benefit from a conversation with an attorney.