Domestic Partnerships

Merrisa L. Coleman-Bishop - San Jose Domestic Partnership Lawyer

If you're in a committed same-sex relationship and need advice about what a registered California domestic partnership might mean for you, contact Santa Clara County domestic partnership attorney Merrisa Coleman-Bishop for advice about how a domestic partner registration differs from marriage, the new rights and obligations that it involves, and how it might apply to your specific situation.

Like marriage, a declaration of domestic partnership under the California Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act creates a community property estate, provides that both partners are parents of children born to one partner after the partnership declaration, and creates a right of survivorship in the event of a partner's death. Although the rights of couples under the statute get the most attention, persons over 62 years of age can declare a domestic partnership as well, regardless of sexual orientation.

Other features of domestic partnership include rights to:

  • Family medical leave from work in case of a partner's serious illness
  • Involvement in important medical decisions concerning an incapacitated partner
  • Stepparent adoption of a partner's child
  • File a wrongful death lawsuit in the event of the partner's fatal accident

Unlike marriage, domestic partnership does not allow the partners the right to file joint tax returns, share in a partner's Social Security benefits, sponsor an immigrant partner's U.S. residence as a spouse, or enjoy other rights or legal protection granted by federal law to married couples.

If a domestic partnership is ended for any reason, dissolution proceedings similar to divorce resolve issues relating to property division, support issues, and child support.

Persons who are not interested in, or are ineligible for, either marriage or domestic partnership - such as adult siblings - but who choose to live together, might consider a joint tenancy agreement to define certain property rights relating to a house they own together or other joint assets. If something happens to one joint tenant, then the other might inherit property that would otherwise go to relatives of the decedent tenant.

Whatever the particular circumstances of your relationship might be, Santa Clara County domestic partnership agreements lawyer Merrisa Coleman-Bishop can help you understand the legal consequences of domestic partnership registration and other cohabitation arrangements. For additional information, contact her in San Jose.