Bay Area Family Law Blog


What Exactly is a California Domestic Partnership Agreement?

You’ve likely heard the term, “prenuptial agreement” or “postnuptial agreement.”  A domestic partnership agreement (also known as a “preregistration agreement” or a “post-registration agreement”) is essentially the same thing as a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement.

These agreements are used to opt out of or modify default law related to financial responsibilities in domestic relationships.  Remember, you already essentially have a domestic partnership agreement, because the default rules of California serve that purpose.  The question is whether that default agreement works for you.

6 Important Elements of a California Domestic Partnership Agreement (“Preregistration Agreement”)

The bottom line is that you and your partner must understand California’s default law and know whether you wish to follow that law or opt out and craft your own agreement.  It’s perfectly okay to accept some of the default law as well as craft your own, in any proportion.

If you want your domestic partnership agreement to be effective:

  • You must understand default California community property and domestic partnership law and how it will affect you if you don’t opt out.
  • You must think about and document how you want property division and partner support to be handled in the event of dissolution of the domestic partnership.
  • You and your soon-to-be partner must both have qualified and separate legal counsel – well in advance of registering your domestic partnership.
  • You both must understand and be comfortable with the terms of your preregistration agreement.
  • You both must fully disclose and list all assets as an addendum to the agreement.
  • The agreement must be drafted and reviewed by highly qualified family law attorneys, who anticipate life and asset changes and seek to reduce the likelihood of future litigation.

What is a California Post-Registration Agreement?

Just as a prenuptial agreement is akin to a preregistration agreement, a postnuptial agreement is akin to a post-registration agreement.

You and your partner can execute an agreement that claws back to your registration date and reformulate the nature of your property (i.e. community versus separate property) and create terms for any future dissolution.

WARNING:  Just as with a postnuptial agreement, a post-registration agreement requires a fiduciary duty to your partner.  Therefore, it’s imperative to fully disclose all assets and debts and to act in your partner’s best interests throughout the process of drafting this agreement.  It’s likely in your best interest to ask your family law attorney what this means for your individual situation.

How Do I Get a California Domestic Partnership Agreement?

To find out whether a domestic partnership agreement would work for you, feel free to contact our offices at your convenience.  We are always happy to discuss partnership planning.  Email or call 415.398.1290.

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

Categories: Domestic Partnership

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