What Is the Legal Definition of a Domestic Partner?

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As the world evolves in its definition of relationships and partnerships, it’s apparent that marriage is something that a lot of people aren’t partaking in. In 2019, the number of unmarried partners living together was 17 million, that’s 7% of the total adult American population. 

If you are unsure of what a domestic partner is, and how it is different from a married couple, then keep reading our brief guide below. 

An Alternative to Marriage

There are many reasons a couple might decide that marriage isn’t for them. Perhaps they have already been married and divorced once and they don’t want to go through the process again. Or perhaps their family situation is complicated due to alimony payments and they don’t want another marriage to complicate things further. 

Whatever the reason might be, some couples decide that a domestic partnership is more for them. It isn’t an accepted legal formation in all states, and that’s why some domestic partners will write a personalized cohabitation agreement to delineate how finances, debts, and other assets get handled in their relationship.

A Legal Formation

If you don’t wish to get married to your partner, but you still wish to create a legal bond between you, then a domestic partnership is a great way to do it. Whether your state accepts it as legal or not, might not matter if you aren’t doing it for legal reasons, but for personal ones.

In some states, a domestic partnership confers some advantages such as:

  • tax benefits 
  • getting added onto your partner’s medical insurance
  • hospital and jail visitation rights
  • rights to inheritance
  • family sick leave and bereavement leave

There are some disadvantages too though, like no access to social security benefits after death or the inability to file joint taxes. That’s why you need to have a conversation with your partner and with a lawyer before getting into a domestic partnership or a common law marriage. This is especially important if you have children from your relationship.

It’s quite easy to form a domestic partnership – you would apply at a designated government office or a courthouse. 

Different from a Civil Union

A civil union is particularly for same-sex couples, and it extends the legal rights of marriage to them. Civil unions aren’t equivalent to marriages and only some states recognize civil unions (similar to domestic partnerships).

Domestic Partner – It’s Another Way to Declare Your Coupledom

As time goes on, and partnerships become more complicated and diverse, a domestic partner and other such legal formations are only going to become more common. It’s always a good idea to stay on top of such legalese in case you ever get caught in the middle of such relationships. 

Don’t ever go into such partnerships without consulting with a lawyer. Make sure you are clear about your rights in the relationship in case of separation. 

We hope you found this article useful. There are many other related articles on relationships on our website, so keep reading.

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