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Call Los Angeles domestic partnerships attorney Hossein Berenji for assistance with your domestic partnership related matters. We offer a free consultation for your convenience.

Domestic Partnership Overview

Prior to the United States Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges), the state of California afforded same- sex couples considerably more rights than most other states. These rights were granted through domestic partnership laws which had been on the books in the state of California since 2000. Registration for a domestic partnership gave same-sex couples a number of the same rights as married couples – but not all rights.

In 2005, the state’s laws for same-sex couples were increased through the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act (A.B. 205). This Act allowed recognition of same-sex unions from other jurisdictions, making such relationships more like a “traditional” marriage. Prior to A.B. 205, couples registering as domestic partners in the state of California were granted these rights:

  • Entitlement to visit the partner in the hospital;
  • Entitlement to make medical decisions for the partner should he or she become incapacitated;
  • Entitlement—if the partner dies without a will—to receive a portion of the partner’s property;
  • Entitlement to provide care for a partner who is ill or for the partner’s child, using employee sick leave to do so;
  • Entitlement to file a wrongful death lawsuit when a partner dies from the negligent act of another;
  • Entitlement to unemployment benefits if relocation is forced due to a partner’s job, and
  • Entitlement to use the same adoption procedures in place for stepparents to adopt a partner’s child.

After A.B. 205 was passed, the following important changes were implemented for domestic partners:

  • Financial responsibility for one another, while the relationship is ongoing, and in the event the relationship should end, just as for married couples. Should one partner obtain a loan, the other would be equally responsible for payment of that loan. A breakup between two partners would be treated exactly as a divorce, financially speaking, even to the extent that one partner might be ordered by the court to pay alimony to his or her partner.
  • The community property system in place in the state of California applied to domestic partners following A.B. 205, meaning in the event of a breakup, the community property of the partners is to be divided in an equal manner, rather than an equitable manner.
  • For the purpose of workers’ compensation or public assistance, partners would be treated as spouses.
  • In court, partners would not be required to offer testimony against the other.
  • Partners would have access to senior citizen housing, student housing or family housing.
  • Partners would be entitled to protections for rent control.
  • Partners who give birth after registering for a domestic partnership would be treated as parents; should the relationship end, a judge would determine custody and visitation rights.

Were there Still Differences Between a Domestic Partnership and Marriage?

Although A.B. 205 expanded rights for domestic partners, there were still differences between partnerships and marriage.

  • Same-sex partners were not considered legally married, and were not able to engage in a marriage ceremony.
  • Same-sex couples were also not allowed to file joint income tax returns
  • California state employees were not afforded the same benefits under long-term care benefits packages.
  • Same-sex partners were not entitled to Social Security benefits or other benefits offered by the Federal government.

More About Domestic Partnerships

The Supreme Court ruling in 2015 did not change any of the domestic partnership sections in the California Family Code; however, it is important to recognize that a domestic partnership is not the same as a marriage license in the state. While the office of the California Secretary of State continues to process applications for domestic partnerships, county government in California now processes marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

If both partners are over the age of 18—or have the permission of their parents—(or, for an opposite-sex couple, one partner is at least 62 years of age), and meet all other requirements, then the domestic partnership can be registered with the Secretary of State in California. For domestic partners to have the rights provided under California state law, they must be registered in the California statewide registry. The additional requirements for a domestic partnership registration include:

  • The partners are not married;
  • The partners live with one another;
  • The partners are not blood-related;
  • The partners are capable of consent, and
  • The partners are the same gender.

In order for an employer to determine how the registered domestic partnership affects employee benefits, the human resources department must be aware of the partnership. The benefits allowed could include up to 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act, use of paid leave and sick leave to care for a domestic partner, health insurance coverage, unemployment if the domestic partner moves for employment reasons,

Terminating a Domestic Partnership in Los Angeles

In the event the partners wish to terminate a registered domestic partnership, Form NP/SF DP-2 must be filed with the California Secretary of State. In some cases, a domestic partnership may only be terminated through a Superior Court dissolution proceeding.

Partners who have a registered domestic partnership and are also married, must file a petition through California Superior Court to dissolve both.

If you are attempting to terminate a domestic partnership, it is definitely in your best interests to contact a Los Angeles domestic partnership attorney who is knowledgeable about all the state and federal laws which govern your domestic partnership.

To qualify for summary dissolution of a domestic partnership, the following must be true:

  • Both parties must want to terminate the domestic partnership;
  • The domestic partnership must not have been registered for more than five years when the Notice of Termination is filed;
  • Neither partner can own any land or buildings;
  • Neither partner must be renting any land or buildings (other than the primary residence);
  • Since the date of the domestic partnership, the partners must not owe more than $6,000 in debts;
  • Partners must have less than $40,000 in property worth which has been acquired during the domestic partnership—excluding vehicles;
  • Partners must agree that neither partner will seek financial support from the other;
  • Partners must have a signed agreement in place dividing property and debts, or an agreement which states there is no property and debts to divide;
  • Neither partner must currently be pregnant, and
  • Partners must have no children together, either born or adopted prior to or during the domestic partnership.

Call Los Angeles Domestic Partnership Attorney Hossein Berenji Today

An experienced Los Angeles family law attorney can explain your rights under the domestic partnership agreement, as well as your obligations. Domestic partnership agreements must be carefully considered and drafted in order to detail and protect the rights and obligations of both partners.