Domestic Partnership Vs. Marriage In California

Domestic Partnership Vs. Marriage In California

Domestic Partnership Vs. Marriage In California – What Is The Difference?

When it comes to the legal distinction between domestic partnership and marriage in California, there is a lot of confusion. Both come with different rights and responsibilities, so it is crucial to understand the difference between the two.


What Is A Domestic Partnership In California?

A domestic partnership in California is a legal agreement between 2 people who are living together & sharing a common domestic life. This type of arrangement is distinct from marriage and carries with it certain rights and responsibilities similar to those associated with marriage.

Domestic partners must meet certain criteria to qualify, such as being of the same sex or having been living together for a certain period. A California domestic partnership also confers certain state-level benefits.


Marriage Under California Family Law

Marriage is a legally recognized union of 2 people that involves various rights and responsibilities. In California, marriage is governed by the Family Code, which provides for a variety of issues, including the dissolution of marriage through divorce.

The Family Code also contains provisions for property division, spousal support, and other matters related to the termination of a marriage. There are also certain requirements that must be met in order to marry in California, such as obtaining a marriage license, having at least one witness present at the ceremony, and providing proper identification.


How Domestic Partnership Is Different From Marriage 

In California, a domestic partnership is a legal relationship between 2 people of the same or opposite sex. Unlike marriage, it does not require a license or ceremony to be established. Domestic partnerships in California also provide fewer rights and responsibilities than marriage.

When it comes to taxes, Social Security benefits, inheritance, and other federal rights, domestic partnerships are not treated the same as marriages. Additionally, only certain medical decisions can be made by a partner if the other is incapacitated. On the other hand, a married couple can make these decisions for each other.

With domestic partnerships, partners must file separate tax returns, while married couples can file jointly. In addition, one partner in a domestic partnership cannot qualify for spousal support from the other. Married couples, however, can receive spousal support if needed.

Ultimately, both domestic partnerships and marriages provide different benefits and drawbacks for those in California. Therefore, it is important to understand what you are signing up for before entering into either type of relationship.


What Are The Benefits Of Having A Domestic Partnership In California?

  • You are able to have legal rights similar to those of married couples, including hospital visitation, making medical decisions on behalf of your partner, and having the ability to inherit from one another in the event of death.
  • You can make a joint declaration regarding ownership of property and assets.
  • You are able to receive health insurance benefits through your partner’s employer.
  • You will not be subject to California’s “marriage penalty” for filing taxes.
  • If you later decide to marry, your domestic partnership will automatically convert into a marriage in California.
  • The process for registering a domestic partnership is significantly simpler and less expensive than that of a marriage.


The Requirements For Registering As A Domestic Partner In California

To register as a domestic partner, both individuals must be at least 18years old & not married or in another registered domestic partnership. Both individuals must share a close personal relationship and live together and intend to remain together indefinitely.

Additionally, both individuals must share financial responsibility for basic living expenses & sign a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. Lastly, both individuals must submit an application and pay the applicable filing fee.


What Are The Benefits Of Getting Married In California? 

  1. Tax Benefits: Under California tax law, married couples may take advantage of filing a joint return and potentially save money on taxes.
  2. Legal Recognition: Marriage is a legal union that is recognized by the state, federal government, and other legal entities. This legal recognition comes with many benefits, such as visitation rights, inheritance rights, and joint filing for taxes.
  3. Long-Term Financial Stability: Marriage allows spouses to make long-term financial plans together, providing greater stability for their future.
  4. Social Security Benefits: Married couples are eligible for certain Social Security benefits that are not available to domestic partners.
  5. Health Insurance Benefits: Being married may provide access to health insurance coverage through a spouse’s employer.
  6. Other Benefits: Spouses may also qualify for military benefits, travel discounts, and other perks that are not available to domestic partners.


The Requirements For Marriage In California

To get married in California, both parties must be 18 years old or older, unless one party has parental consent. Both parties must not already be married, & must have valid identification. California also requires a marriage license, which can be obtained from any county clerk’s office.

The marriage must be officiated by someone authorized to perform the ceremony, such as a priest, rabbi, or minister. After the ceremony, the officiant will file the marriage license with the state. Finally, a marriage certificate will be issued by the county.


Which Is Better For You?

When deciding which type of relationship best suits you, it’s important to consider the legal implications of both domestic partnerships and marriage in California. For couples who are not looking to share assets or gain legal recognition, a domestic partnership may be the better option. This option provides many of the same rights and benefits as marriage, but without any of the long-term legal obligations.

On the other hand, marriage is still viewed as an important status under California family law. It provides more benefits than a domestic partnership and creates lifelong legal ties between two people. Ultimately, it’s up to you & your partner to decide which is best for your circumstances. Consider your goals for the relationship and seek advice from a lawyer if needed.


How To Dissolve A California Domestic Partnership


In California, dissolving a domestic partnership is very similar to getting a divorce. The process actually begins by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Domestic Partnership with the court. You will also need to submit various documents, such as financial declarations and other paperwork.

After the paperwork is filed, you will need to serve your partner with the petition. Once your partner is served, they can either agree to the terms or challenge them. If your partner agrees, you can submit a Request for Entry of Default to the court, which will finalize the dissolution of the partnership.

If your partner disputes, then you will need to attend a hearing and make your case before the judge. Depending on your situation, it may be beneficial to consult an attorney before proceeding with this process.


Summing Up

In California, domestic partnerships and marriage are two different relationships with different sets of benefits & obligations. A domestic partnership is best suited for those who wish to enjoy the same rights as married couples without getting married.

On the other hand, marriage is best for those who want to commit themselves to each other in the eyes of the law. Ultimately, it’s up to the couple to decide which route is right for them. Knowing your options can help you make the best decision for your relationship. So consult an accomplished family law attorney today.

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