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What Rights Do Domestic Partners Have in California?

What Rights Do Domestic Partners Have in California?

Domestic partners in the state of California that meet certain criteria and who follow specific procedures can file with the Secretary of State as registered domestic partners to receive benefits that were once just afforded married couples. These benefits are extensive and cover everything from health insurance to community property. Today, we review what rights domestic partners have in California.

How Do You Qualify for a Domestic Partnership?

Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share their lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring. According to the California Secretary of State’s website, a domestic partnership is established when the individuals who meet the criteria either file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership or a Confidential Declaration of Domestic partnership. To qualify, a couple must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Must have a common residence.
  • Agree to be responsible for each other’s basic living expenses.
  • Are not blood related.
  • Both individuals can consent to a domestic partnership.
  • Both individuals are not married to someone else or are in another domestic partnership.

A domestic partnership used to be solely for same-sex couples or couples over the age of 62. On July 30, 2019, Governor Newsom signed SB 30 which allows opposite-sex couples under the age of 62 to be eligible to enter domestic partnerships.

What Benefits Are You Entitled to in a Domestic Partnership?

Domestic partners in California are entitled to the following rights:

  • Healthcare and disability insurance coverage.
  • Right to own community property.
  • 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to care for your registered domestic partner.
  • Unemployment insurance.
  • Ability to adopt their domestic partner’s child.
  • Hospital and jail visitation rights.
  • Rights involving wills, intestate succession, conservatorship, and trusts.
  • Right to request spousal support upon divorce.
  • Parental rights and responsibilities spouses are granted in a marriage.

Community Property and Domestic Partnerships

Domestic partnership rights in California have expanded to provide domestic partners with the same rights as married individuals. This is thanks to recent legislative changes to domestic partnership laws. Perhaps the most impactful change included rights to community property and debts in a domestic partnership. Both partners are responsible for each other’s debts – during and after the partnership ends.

Additionally, a couple will be required to divide their community property equally and are able to ask the court for assistance with disputes over shared property. Therefore, if you and your domestic partner decide to dissolve your partnership, each partner will be entitled to half of your community property.

Domestic partners are also able to receive a portion of their partner’s property if they die intestate. Additionally, in the event one partner dies, the other is entitled to pursue a wrongful death case.

What Is the Different Between a Domestic Partnership and Marriage?

Under California law, domestic partners receive all the benefits of marriage; however, under federal law this is not the case. Essentially, in another country, your domestic partnership would not be considered valid. Additionally, unlike married couples, domestic partners must file their taxes separately.

Consult with our office online or call us at (951) 779-1610 to schedule a consultation.

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