A domestic partnership is not identical to marriage, but it provides some of the same benefits. Some states refer to the institution as a “civil union,” but the definition of what is a domestic partnership or civil union varies from one city or state to the next. The following is a general overview of domestic partnerships, focusing on registration and benefits.

Domestic Partnership

How to Register as Domestic Partners

Partners who want to register must declare that their relationship constitutes a serious relationship at a courthouse or other designated government office. Same-sex marriage in Indiana became legal in October 2014. Even so, some couples (both straight and gay) choose to enter into a domestic partnership agreement. Such agreements are designed to act like an insurance policy for unmarried couples living together.
Generally, in order to register as domestic partners:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old;
  2. Neither partner may be married to, or the domestic partner of, anyone else;
  3. You must reside together, and intend to do so permanently;
  4. You must not be so closely related by blood (or marriage) as to bar marriage in the state;

Domestic partnerships involve two individuals living together and sharing a common domestic life but are not married (to each other or to anyone else). Registering a domestic partnership with the government is the first step towards formalizing a legal relationship. By having a civil partnership, a couple can have a few of the rights and obligations that married couples have without becoming married.

Same-Sex Marriage Legal

Domestic Partnership Benefits

Domestic partners are entitled to some of the legal benefits of marriage, but not all. In any event, the benefits of these types of unions vary by state and jurisdiction.

Some of the common benefits of a domestic partnership include:

  • Ability to get coverage on a family health insurance policy
  • Right to family leave for a sick partner
  • Right to bereavement leave
  • Visitation rights in hospitals and jails
  • Domestic partner benefits vary, as you can see from the following examples:

Domestic Partnership Benefits

Need to Speak to an Attorney About Domestic Partnership?

Understanding the laws of your state and federal laws protecting same-sex relationships is crucial whether you intend to start or terminate a domestic partnership. There are many legal aspects to this legal union, including benefits, rights, and responsibilities. If you are thinking about forming a domestic partnership, you should consult a domestic partnership attorney right away.