A domestic partnership
is a union between two persons who have chosen to share an intimate
relationship with each other. The parties should not be married to one another
or to someone else. This process allows cohabitation couples to make the
relationship official outside the standard marriage context.

Domestic partnership
was originally introduced in the early 1980s for same-sex couples. The
opposite-sex partners’ can also enter into domestic partnership relationship if
one party is at least 62 years of age. The union is legally recognized and the
parties can receive benefits similar to those of married couples.

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In California law, domestic
partnership is known as a civil union by federal governments. The union has
legal rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples.
Although, some states do not recognize domestic partnership within the legal

Our website www.SanDiego-DivorceAttorney.com
will provide you with information and resources you need in case you decide to
move forward with a domestic partnership union.

is entitled to a domestic partnership?

1.      Opposite sex parties provided one party is
62 years or older and meet the requirements of California Family Code section

2.      Non-heterosexual parties (same-sex
parties) where both parties are of age 18 or older.

3.      A party under 18 years can obtain a court
order granting the permission and get consent from the underage partner’s

4.      No blood relationship among the parties.

5.      No party should be married to someone else
or registered in another domestic partnership relationship.


205: How Act of 2003 is transforming California’s Domestic partnership law

On January 1, 2005, an
Assembly Bill (AB 205) was passed by the state of California to expand on the
rights and responsibilities of same-sex couples. The bill is known as the
“Domestic partner rights and responsibilities Act of 2003”. This law recognizes
the same-sex union in other jurisdictions provided partnership is validly
formed according to the set California domestic partnership state requirements.

AB 205 ensures the
parties have the same rights as married couples. The couples are financially
responsible to each other during the relationship. In the event of termination,
the party has the right to spousal support.

California law courts
have a mandate to provide rights and responsibilities to spouses as stated in
AB 205 act of 2003. The bill allows couples to register as domestic partners if
they are also married to the same person.

If you had registered
for a domestic partnership before January 1, 2005, you automatically gained the
new rights and responsibilities stated by AB 205 act. You don’t need to
re-register again unless you had previously terminated your relationship before
January 1, 2015.

of registering for domestic partnership relationship.

A civil union couple
has the same benefits as a married couple. Civil union is most sought after by
gay couples in states where traditional marriage is unavailable. AB 205 bill
authorizes the same-sex couples to seek civil unions with ease. According to
Act 2003, domestic partners are entitled to the following legal benefits and

1.      Right to obtain employee sick leave to
take care of your sick partner or partner’s child.

2.      Right to receive hospital and jail

3.      Right to get family health insurance

4.      Right to receive a portion of your
partner’s property in case s/he dies without a will.

5.      Right to receive bereavement leave

6.      Right to use step-parent adoption
procedures to adopt your partner’s child.

7.      Right to sue for wrongful death of your

8.      Right to access survivor pension benefits.

9.      Right to seek spousal support (alimony)
upon dissolution of the partnership.

10. Right to receive
half the interest on a property the other partner purchased while in a domestic
partnership relationship.

Note: For you to
qualify for the above legal benefits and protections, you need to register as a
domestic partner with the Secretary of the state. Registration with the county
or city council is not recognized by the state of California domestic
partnership law.

is the difference between domestic partnership and marriage?

The federal law does
not recognize domestic partnership couples to have same benefits as married
couples. This has a significant impact on your life and that of your partner
since the following federal benefits are scraped off.

1.      You do not receive retirement benefits
from the federal government.

2.      You receive few rights to health saving
accounts. You do not have the right to make any medical or emergency decisions
when out of California.

3.      You will not receive social security
benefits given to married couples under the federal law.

4.      You don’t have the right to file federal
taxes jointly or receive tax benefits given to married couples.


In the US, same-sex
marriage bans have declared unconstitutional (Obergefell V. Hodges) e.g. in
states like Washington. Registered domestic partnerships automatically became
marriages with the legalization of gay marriage. This is different in
California since the parties have to agree among themselves if they want to
maintain a domestic relationship or they need to get married.


to register for domestic partnership

If you and your partner
are eligible for domestic partnership, you can register yourself with the
California Secretary of state. This is done by;

1.      Download Domestic Partnership declaration
form from http://www.sos.ca.gov/dpregistry/ or pick the form up from the local
county registrar’s office.

2.      Complete the form and sign in the presence
of a notary.

3.      Provide your current mailing address.

4.      Pay a $33 processing fee and submit the
form to the secretary of state.

Upon signing the
declaration form, you need to attest that:

1.      You have met all the requirements of a
domestic partner relationship.

2.      You agree to allow California court to
petition your case in the event of dissolution of the partnership. This also
applies if one or both of you no longer reside in California.

3.      The information provided in the form is correct
and contain no material omission to the best of your knowledge.

In case of any
confidentiality, both parties are required to share a common residence and sign
a non-confidential form NP/SF DP-1A.


You should also
consider the following before registering for domestic partnership.

1.      Whether your partner or both of you are
receiving any benefits like SSI or Medicare prior to registration.

2.      If you and your partner will adopt a child
from another country.

3.      If your partner is a non-US citizen and
s/he is in the US without proper documentation or has a non-immigrant visa.

4.      If any of you is in the military


If the above is
applicable, it is advisable to contact your San Diego Divorce Attorney or legal
counsel to take you through your rights and responsibilities as domestic

to dissolve domestic partnership

Prior to January 1,
2015, termination of domestic partnership relationship was carried through
filling a notice of termination with the secretary of state. AB 205 act 2003
provides the domestic partnership relationship be dissolved through court
proceedings just like marriages.

However, you can also
terminate your relationship without court approval if;

•       You and your partner have been registered
for less than 5 years,

•       You and your partner don’t have children
or pregnant at the time of dissolution,

•       None of you own a real estate property
(community property) acquired during the relationship.

If both parties fulfill
the above termination requirements, you can fill a notice of termination with
the secretary of state. A window period of six months is taken to effectively
dissolve your partnership. Read more information on the dissolution of
partnership requirements from www.sos.ca.gov.


In an event you’re both
legally married and registered domestic partners, a lawyer is needed to help
you file a petition for ending your marriage and the domestic partnership in a
local court.

If you had a child
during termination of the contract, the California court will determine the
custody and visitation rights of the child. Both parents may be held
responsible for the support of the child. During the court proceedings, all
community assets acquired during the relationship are distributed among the

In a same-sex
relationship, a party can seek alimony and secure child support if the party
depended on the other party. If the same-sex couples do not own a real estate
at the time of termination of partnership and have been together for less than
five years, they can end their partnership through filing a notice with the
secretary of state.


to terminate domestic partnership when outside the state of California.

At the time of
registration, you agreed that the California courts have the power over the
termination of your domestic partnership relationship and any other proceeding.
Therefore, in the event of dissolution, you can dissolve your partnership with
ease even if you no longer reside in California. Consult your attorney determine
whether you need to return to the state of California to complete termination
procedure or you can terminate while in a different state.



of the frequently asked questions by clients

Do both parties need to
be residents of California to register for domestic partners with the state of

No. It is not a must
for both parties to be residents of California in order to register with the
State of California. When you register with the state of California, you should
take measures available to protect your relationship while in a different
state. There are states which do not recognize domestic partnership within the
legal context.

Can you re-register
with the state of California if you are registered domestic partner in another

No. The current AB 205
has a provision that, any validly formed civil union of two persons, other than
a marriage in another jurisdiction, and it is according to the set California
domestic partnership requirements, it will be recognized as a valid domestic partnership.
This holds true regardless of whether it is called a civil union, domestic
partnership or any other name in that state.

Is domestic partnership
relationship recognized with other federal governments?

Currently, the federal
government does not recognize domestic partnership thus providing limited
protection to your family as compared to married couples. Other state laws may
not support or respect domestic partners and may be hostile to gay and lesbian

How does the state laws
treat property owned by registered domestic partners?

State laws allow
registered domestic partners to own property which is recognized as a community
property. The property has survivorship right and in case of death of a party,
the property is passed to the surviving partner. Community property does not
attract any capital gains when the survivor sells the property due to lack of
federal tax recognition benefits for domestic partners.


What happens to the
property owned prior to domestic partnership registration?

AB 205 provides that,
all property owned by a partner before registering as a domestic partner
remains a separate property. But, if the partner use community funds to pay for
the mortgage or improve the property purchased before domestic partnership then
the property remains a community property and can be divided among the partners
during dissolution.


Contact a premier
Domestic partnership Attorney

Prior to registration
of a domestic partnership, you should weigh the benefits of available options
based on your current state and whether you meet the specific requirements. You
should also evaluate your rights as an employee in a domestic partnership
relationship. The California state law requires all the registered domestic
partners to keep an up-to-date address with the Secretary of the state
especially if you have moved to a different residence. The addresses should be
updated online at www.sos.ca.gov.

Domestic partnership
and related benefits apply to the specific state you live. If you are in San
Diego, and you are considering having a domestic partnership union or terminate
your union, our experienced lawyers at San Diego Divorce Attorney can help you
through the process. Feel free to call us via 888-888-8888. To learn more about
Domestic partnership and how it can apply to your case go to www.SanDiego-DivorceAttorney.com.