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Domestic Partnerships and Same-Sex Marriage

At Shaffer & Associates located in downtown San Diego, we understand California domestic partnership law, including both the formation and termination of domestic partnerships. Our attorneys are at the forefront of domestic partnership law and have helped many couples resolve legal issues regarding their partnerships. As with all family law cases, our mission is to help our clients resolve issues as peacefully as possible in the way that provides the best possible outcome for their families.

Under California law, a same-sex couple or qualified heterosexual couple is eligible for a “domestic partnership.” Because this is a complex and frequently changing body of law, which can have serious personal and financial implications, it's important to have up-to-date legal advice concerning your rights and responsibilities under this law. We will help you explore all of your options and alternatives before entering into a partnership arrangement. We can explain the rights and obligations of couples entering into a domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement.

Eligibility for Domestic Partnership in California

The state of California allows couples to file for domestic partnership registry. To qualify for domestic partnership, the couple:

  • Must have a common residence
  • Cannot be married
  • Cannot be in a domestic partnership with someone else
  • Cannot be related by blood
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be members of the same sex or one person must be over the age of 62
  • Must both be capable of consent to the domestic partnership 

If you qualify and are registered, you and your partner will have several rights that were formerly reserved for married persons. Some of these expanded rights include:

  • The right to use step-parent adoption procedures
  • Health care and medical emergency rights
  • Protections upon the death of a partner
  • Employment benefits
  • Tax benefits

A law that went into effect on January 1, 2005, recognizes community property in domestic partnerships, including the right to seek spousal support in the event of a dissolution of the partnership.  The current law also establishes that any children who were born during the couple's domestic partnership are presumed to be the children of both partners.   

Recent changes in federal law have also made same-sex marriage an option in California. The primary difference between same-sex marriage and domestic partnership is that marriage may afford additional benefits under federal law that are not available to registered domestic partners. At Shaffer & Associates, we can explain the different rights and obligations associated with domestic partnership and same-sex marriage so that you can pursue the option that is best for your family.

Domestic Partnership and Same-Sex Marriage Attorneys in San Diego

The San Diego attorneys at Shaffer & Associates serve San Diego County and the surrounding communities, including Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County. Contact Shaffer & Associates online or call (619) 595-3167 today to learn about whether same-sex marriage or domestic partnership is right for you, and what to do if you need to dissolve a domestic partnership or same-sex marriage. 

San Diego Bar AssociationSection of Family LawCalifornia State Bar Family Law American Bar Association Avvo Clients' Choice 2014