Opposite-Sex Domestic Partnerships Are Now Legal in California

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Starting this year, heterosexual couples in California can now use legally recognized domestic partnerships as an alternative to marriage. Although domestic partnerships were legalized for same-sex couples in 1999, and marriage was legalized for same-sex couples in 2013, domestic partnerships were only available to heterosexual couples over the age of 62—until now.

Why Choose Domestic Partnership?

For many people, the choice of a domestic partnership over marriage is likely to be more philosophical than anything else. Domestic partnerships can offer most of the same legal rights as a marriage without the same social expectations. Similarly, some who have been previously married may not want to remarry following divorce or the death of their spouse.

Differences Between Domestic Partnership and Marriage

Although domestic partnerships and marriages afford most of the same rights, such as medical visitation, children, in-state adoption, healthcare, and community property. However, there are important differences, and domestic partnerships are not federally recognized.

For example, domestic partners cannot sponsor each other for citizenship, cannot adopt children internationally, and may have different rights in states that do not recognize domestic partnership.

There are advantages as well: domestic partners who wish to dissolve the partnership and have been together fewer than five years, have no children, have limited assets, and don’t wish to pursue support can terminate the domestic partnership by simply filing a form, no courts necessary. Additionally, domestic partnerships offer some federal tax advantages over marriages because both partners will file federal taxes as individuals.

Deciding What’s Right for You and Your Partner

Ultimately, the decision about whether to form a domestic partnership or get married is a deeply personal one that can only be made by you and your partner. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand the ins and outs of both options so you can make an informed decision about what works best for you.

At Ernest A. Casacca Attorney at Law, I have been advising Atascadero and San Luis Obispo County families on important legal decisions since 1990. Call my office today (805) 466-5888 to schedule an appointment to talk about your case.

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