Chris and Taylor had been a couple for several years before they decided to make it ‘official.’ They had heard of domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage and assumed that the two institutions were basically the same. However, Chris and Taylor learned there were some significant differences when they decided to split up.
Forming the Relationship
In California, one way of formalizing a same-sex relationship is by filing domestic partnership paperwork with the California Secretary of State. The parties complete a Form NP/SF DP-1, sign it before a notary, and return the form to the California Secretary of State’s Office.
Same-sex marriage follows the same process as an opposite-sex couple. Both parties must be single and must appear in person at a County Clerk’s office to apply for a license. After the wedding, which may be a religious or civil ceremony, the officiant returns the license to the County Clerk or County Recorder.
Rights During the Relationship
According to California Family Code, Section 297.5:
“Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law … as are granted and imposed upon spouses.”
After the death of someone involved in a registered domestic partnership, the survivor has the same rights and protections as a widow or widower from an opposite-sex marriage.
Marriage laws may differ from state to state. However, gay marriage is recognized in all states and afforded the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriage.
However, some states may not acknowledge a California registered domestic partnership. Federal laws also may not grant the same rights to domestic partners that are given to same-sex married couples. Insurance coverage and taxes are two areas affected by a couple’s decision to form a domestic partnership instead of a same-sex marriage.
Terminating Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriage
Domestic partnerships may be dissolved by filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State. However, the couple must meet the requirements contained in California Family Code Section 299. If the domestic partners have children, own property, or have been together for more than five years, they will need to dissolve their union through the court system. This process is similar to divorce or dissolution of a marriage, including same-sex marriage.
Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriage Differences Matter
It’s important to understand California and federal law before starting – or ending – a relationship. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and dissolution of registered domestic partnership.Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Southern California Coast.