Bay Area Family Law Blog


What Exactly is a Registered Domestic Partnership?

The state of California recognizes domestic relationships in two different forms:  marriage and registered domestic partnerships.

  • Marriage and registered domestic partnerships are much alike on the state level; they carry similar rights and responsibilities.  Examples would include the right to a partner/spouse’s health insurance, the right to financial support, and community property rights.
  • However, the federal government doesn’t recognize domestic partners (or gay marriage) so extra legal planning is required for most registered domestic partners.

Who Uses Domestic Partnerships?

Same sex couples and senior couples can register for domestic partnership status.  Click here to determine whether you’re qualified for domestic partnership status.

  • California does not currently allow gay marriage, but does offer domestic partnership as an option to same sex couples.
  • Older couples, receiving Social Security benefits, also qualify for domestic partnership.

What are the Responsibilities of a California Registered Domestic Partnership?

Just like married couples, registered couples legally commit to:

  • Financially supporting each other (e.g. spousal support)
  • Acting as a fiduciary to each other.  This means that each partner must look out for, be honest with, and act in the best interest of his or her partner.
  • Being jointly liable for community debts.

State recognized rights would include:

  • Community property rights.
  • Spousal support.
  • Hospital visitation.
  • Inheritance rights.

Why Should We Consult with a Family Law Attorney?

The California registered domestic partnership is NOT recognized by the federal government and to make sure you and your partner are protected, you need an extra layer of planning.  For example, there is very unequal treatment as to gift taxes, federal estate taxes, Social Security benefits, roll over of retirement accounts, child tax credits, and divorce distribution tax benefits.

In addition, many couples benefit from pre or post-registration planning just as couples benefit from pre or post-nuptial planning and agreements.  Agreeing how you’re going to handle financial matters protects both partners.

How to Find a Family Law Attorney Who Knows Registered Domestic Partnerships

Our family law attorneys focus on helping strengthen relationships through domestic partnership pre and post-registration agreements; and, if it’s time to move on, they help couples dissolve their partnership as well.

While we try to provide a lot of information in our articles, we aren’t able to address every specific you may need.  Please feel free to email or call 415.398.1290 to find out more about California registered domestic partnerships.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Guide to California Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriages eBook Download

Categories: Domestic Partnership

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