A domestic partnership is an interpersonal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not married (to each other or to anyone else). The term is not used consistently, which results in some jurisdictional confusion. Some jurisdictions, such as the states of Oregon, Washington (only available if one of the parties is 62 or older), Nevada, Wisconsin, Maine, and California, use the term “Domestic Partnership” to mean what other jurisdictions call Civil Union, Civil Partnership, or Registered Partnership. Other jurisdictions use the term as it was originally coined, to mean an interpersonal status created by local municipal and county governments, which provides an extremely limited range of rights and responsibilities.
Some legislatures have voluntarily established domestic partnership relations by statute instead of being ordered to do so by a court. Although some jurisdictions have instituted domestic partnerships as a way to recognize same-sex unions, statutes do exist which provide for recognition of opposite-sex domestic partnerships in many jurisdictions.
In some legal jurisdictions, domestic partners who live together for an extended period of time but are not legally entitled to common-law marriage may be entitled to legal protection in the form of a domestic partnership. Some domestic partners may enter into non-marital relationship contracts in order to agree, either verbally or in writing, to issues involving property ownership, support obligations, and similar issues common to marriage. Beyond agreements, registration of relationships in domestic partnership registries allow for the jurisdiction to formally acknowledge domestic partnerships as valid relationships with limited rights.
DivorceLink attorneys understand the complexities of Domestic Partnerships and will provide the proper legal protection for all parties involved.