Domestic Partnership Agreements

domestic-agreementsA domestic partnership agreement is a legal document used by both heterosexual and same-sex couples in committed relationships. This contract creates security regarding finances, property, and healthcare rights. A domestic partnership agreement is unique to each couple, and created to fit the specific needs of the relationship. A family lawyer can draft a customized contract for you and your partner. The agreement typically details how both parties wish to share income and assets, hold bank accounts, and own property. If you and your partner are not married, you are not granted rights under divorce or probate laws. The agreement helps protect your interests and avoid legal battles, should an unexpected issue occur.

Domestic partnerships are highly beneficial for couples who choose to commit to each other for life. The written contract ensures you and your partner have the same basic rights as other couples in committed relationships. In accordance with the city of Orlando, the agreement provides those in domestic arrangements healthcare rights and emotional security. The parties are granted visitation rights in hospitals and other health care facilities, the ability to be active in decisions regarding their partner’s health, and funeral and burial decisions. The agreement also allows for visitation rights if a partner is an inmate in a correctional facility. In a situation requiring mandatory notification of family members, the domestic partner is included. As stated in Florida statutes, the domestic partner is granted preneed guardian designation, and can serve as such in the event of his or her partner’s incapacity. Additionally, Florida law allows for a registered domestic partner to participate in the education of a minor dependent of the registered domestic partner. Eligibility for domestic partnerships requires both parties be 18 years or older, not related to one another, unmarried, and sharing a residence.

In the unfortunate instance of the partnership ending, one or both partners must submit a notarized Termination of Domestic Partnership Affidavit form to the city clerk. This form will be processed, and a copy will be mailed to both you and your former partner.

domestic-agreements2A domestic partnership is essentially a substitute to marriage, as you and your partner are granted many of the same benefits as married couples. However, there are a few distinguishing differences between the relationship statuses. Marriage is recognized in every state across the country (and around the world), while domestic partnerships are not. Domestic partnerships are not recognized on a federal level, so you and you partner are not eligible to file jointly on your tax return, nor are you eligible to receive Social Security spousal benefits. A domestic partnership may not be recognized as you cross state lines or travel out of the country, so you are also not able to petition for a non-citizen partner. Marriage provides more benefits and protections, on both a state and federal level, than domestic partnership agreements. There are over 1,000 legal benefits created by marriage. Some of these benefits include the rights to inherit, spousal financial support, division of property and assets after divorce, right to sponsor a non-citizen spouse, Social Security benefits, and pension benefits through a spouse.

There are many benefits to both marriage and domestic partnership agreements. Depending on the level of commitment you are seeking, one may be more beneficial than the other. Domestic partnership agreements were created to provide protection and security to heterosexual and same-sex couples who do not wish to marry. An Orlando family lawyer, well-versed in the creative and complex details of domestic partnerships, can draft a customized contract for you and your partner.