Domestic Partnerships

Many people know that domestic partnerships are similar to marriage and can apply to unmarried couples who are living together. Most registered domestic partners tended to be in same-sex relationships prior to the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, especially if they lived in a state that banned same-sex marriage. But it remains an option in a few states for partners (same- or opposite-sex) who live together and share a common domestic life. However, some states and cities that offer the arrangement require one of the individuals to be at least 62-years-old.

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 vary from one city or state to the next. The following is a general overview of domestic partnerships, focusing on registration and 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 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

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