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How Do I Register a California Domestic Partnership?

A California domestic partnership is a legal contract between committed couples that conveys most of the same rights as marriage. While most registered domestic partners are same-sex couples, couples of the opposite sex may register as domestic partners if one partner is 62 or older. It's essential to register a domestic partnership so that the partners have the legal protections that married couples often take for granted. 

Registering a domestic partnership is actually relatively straightforward. Both partners must complete a "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" form, sign the form and have their signatures notarized. The form must then be submitted to the California Secretary of State along with the appropriate fee, which includes a $10 filing fee and a fee to support a training for service providers regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender domestic abuse, and to provide educational materials on domestic abuse. In some circumstances, there may be an additional $15 processing fee for the form. 

Declarations of Domestic Partnership become a searchable part of the public record. Couples who do not want this information available to the public may complete a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership instead, which will mean their partnership documents are accessible only to them.

Unions contracted in other states that are similar in substance to a California domestic partnership, such as civil unions from other states, may be registered in California. Couples need not be California residents in order to register a domestic partnership in San Diego or any other California county, but should be aware that their home state may not recognize the domestic partnership.

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