Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage
By Henry F. Lewis on September 26, 2019
Prior to the legalization of gay marriage in 2015 thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, domestic partnership was the alternative to marriage for same-sex couples. Domestic partnerships are also available to heterosexual couples age 62 and older. In 2020, the age restrictions on heterosexual domestic partnerships will be repealed, opening it up to all California adults.
Many same-sex and heterosexual couples are in domestic partnerships and wonder if they should simply get married given the rights given through marriage. Other couples are weighing the pros and cons of the two kinds of unions. Oakland, CA attorneys Michael A. Gardner and Henry F. Lewis cover some of the basics regarding this issue.
What Is a Domestic Partnership?
A domestic partnership confers many of the same financial and legal protections of a marriage, including the ability to add one’s spouse to a medical or dental plan and the ability to take medical leave to care for your partner. You file for domestic partnership with the state of California.
Key Differences from a Marriage
The key differences between a domestic partnership and a marriage involve the rights that are provided. Married couples can transfer assets to one another without paying gift taxes or estate taxes. That is not the case with domestic partners.
In addition, domestic partnerships may not be recognized in certain states, counties, or countries. This means that domestic partners are not given the same protections as married partners. There are issues with insurance, pension benefits, and social security benefits that must be considered among domestic partners.
There are important topics that we have discussed with numerous couples in Oakland regarding marriage and domestic partnerships.
The Limits of a Domestic Partnership
We alluded to a few issues above, but many people who are in domestic partnerships face problems with receiving the full rights and benefits of married couples. This is one of the key matters that fueled the fight for gay marriage for many years.
For instance, some insurance policies do not recognize the rights of domestic partners in the way they recognize married spouses. This means limits on insurance coverage, and increased out-of-pocket expenses for medical or dental treatment if your partner does not have their own insurance.
In a domestic partnership, each partner files taxes separately rather than jointly. This means you may face issues with deductions and various tax savings that married couples would qualify for.
If you have a child from a separate marriage or partnership, adoption is possible by your new partner. However, in order for this to go through, the biological parent of your child from the previous relationship must relinquish their parental rights.
Making the Right Decisions with Your Partner
Getting married or entering a domestic partnership are important decisions that you need to carefully consider. By working with family law attorneys, we can help you understand all of the pros and cons involved in whatever decision you make. This can help with short-term financial realities as well as long-term financial planning.
Learn More About Marriage and Partnerships
If you would like more information about marriages and domestic partnerships, be sure to speak with our skilled marriage and family law attorneys. The lawyers of Gardner & Lewis, LLP can be reached in Oakland by phone at (510) 451-4822.
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“The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance.” Henry F. Lewis