More couples than ever before are finding themselves living with each other, without the so-called "benefit" of marriage. Just because you're forgoing the legal marriage act, however, doesn't mean that you should proceed without any legal protection or support whatsoever. More and more states are beginning to recognize domestic partnerships as a bonafide relationship status, with the accompanying benefits. Read on to learn more about getting some recognition and getting it down on paper when it comes to your cohabitation arrangement.
Where are domestic partnerships recognized?
Couples can expect some of the same benefits as married couples, if they reside in one of the following states or cities: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco.
What benefits can you expect in those places?
- Health insurance coverage by your partner, either through work or privately.
- The ability to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act when one of you is sick or has a baby.
- Eligibility for government aid programs, like food stamps, affordable housing, and more.
- Recognition by health care facilities for visitation privileges as next of kin.
- Eligibility to be named a beneficiary for retirement plans and insurance.
- Ability to file taxes as "married filing jointly," but unfortunately only for state taxes. Since this type of relationship is not recognized on a federal basis, you cannot file your federal taxes jointly without being legally married. It should be noted that if your relationship falls into the common law bucket and your state recognizes common law marriage, you may still be able to file jointly.
There are many large corporations that recognize domestic partner relationships, even if you live in a place that doesn't. The benefits can range from health insurance coverage, beneficiary status, and more. You should be prepared to show proof of your relations with a lease, mortgage, utility bill, etc.
Make it legal
While possibly not admissible in court, a domestic partnership agreement could benefit you, no matter where you live. These agreements spell out financial provisions, such as how debt is handled, and sets up provisions for dealing with a potential split. Knowing how financial issues will be handled can give your arrangement more of an official stamp, without having to go through any ceremony.
To learn more, speak to a family law attorney, such as those at Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner, LLP, as soon as possible and learn how domestic partnerships are handled where you live.