Domestic Partnerships in California

People living in California are well aware of the ongoing controversy surrounding Proposition 8, the ballot measure seeking to ban gay marriage, which was passed in 2008 and subsequently upheld by the California Supreme Court.  However, in August 2010, a federal judge ruled that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.  The controversy is likely to go on for some time, as the case is expected to reach the United States Supreme Court.

Currently, California is not issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.  While the Proposition 8 controversy is pending, though, same-sex couples can continue to form legally-recognized domestic partnerships.

Filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the state provides couples with certain legal and financial advantages.  Among the benefits is the right of one partner to be covered under the other’s employer health insurance where the employer offers coverage to spouses.  Partners are also entitled to various property rights, inheritance rights, and state tax advantages.

As one real estate expert notes, issues may arise when domestic partners jointly purchase real property without planning on how the property will be handled if the relationship ends.  In California, community property law applies to registered domestic partners, and most property acquired during the partnership will be equally owned by both partners.  However, property rights can be modified through a Domestic Partnership Agreement, which can specify how a couple’s assets and debts will be handled if they separate.  Couples may agree that if they separate, the home will belong to one or the other of them, or that one partner can buy out the other at an appraised price, or that the property will be sold and the net proceeds divided between the partners.

The attorneys at Minella Law Group have many years of experience in creating domestic partnerships.  If you are considering forming a registered domestic partnership, we can explain its benefits and potential drawbacks, help you decide whether a domestic partnership agreement is right for your situation, and, if you decide that it is right for you, we can draft a domestic partnership agreement that will protect all of your rights.  Please contact Minella Law Group today at (619) 289-7948 to arrange a consultation.