What are your rights as a domestic partner in California?
Californians, particularly lesbian and gay couples, are probably familiar with domestic partnerships. Domestic partnership allows non-married couples to legally recognize their relationship. Many people usually assume that a domestic partnership is similar to marriage because it provides domestic partners the same or similar benefits given to married couples. Like any family law issue, an individual who is a registered domestic partner has rights.
According to the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, also known as Assembly Bill 205, a registered domestic partner is entitled to the same benefits, protections, and rights as married couples. This means that even when a couple does not marry, registering their relationship as a domestic partnership may subject them to the same obligations, duties, and responsibilities as a married couple in the state.
A registered domestic partner may be able to get coverage on a family member’s health insurance policy and may also be eligible to file for family medical leave if their partner gets sick. Domestic partners are also entitled to visitation rights in hospitals and in jails. Furthermore, they can make major medical decisions in case of emergencies.
Registering as a domestic partnership in California gives an individual the access to state spousal benefits, workers’ compensation, spousal testimonial privilege, and inheritance rights. They are also eligible for parental rights and responsibilities, similar to married couples. They are entitled to public benefits and are obligated to community property laws and financial obligations such as taxes. Like any married couple in California, domestic partners may also dissolve their domestic partnership.
Domestic partnerships allow unmarried couples the same protections and rights of married couples. However, people should be mindful of different legal and financial matters before registering as a domestic partnership.
Source: National Center for Lesbian Rights, “The California Domestic Partnership Law: What it Means For You and Your Family” Accessed Oct. 16, 2014