Understanding California’s New Domestic Partnership Law

Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi A Professional Law Corporation Family Law

Changes in California law happen all the time. Often, they do not affect marriage or divorce. However, as of January 1, 2020, heterosexual couples in California will now have the option to enter into a domestic partnership. At the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi, we want to discuss this law change and how it can affect marriage and divorce in this state. Our Westlake Village family law attorneys keep track of all law changes so we are best able to help our clients.

What changed on Jan 1, 2020?

Before the beginning of this year, not everybody in this state was able to enter into a domestic partnership. Domestic partnerships had traditionally been reserved for same-sex couples or for opposite-sex couples over the age of 62. Since 2013, when same-sex couples gained the right to marry in California, they have had a choice to choose between marriage or a domestic partnership. Many advocacy groups have argued that every couple in the state should have the freedom to make a choice between the two.

Why would a couple choose the domestic partnership route as opposed to traditional marriage?

There are a few reasons why a California couple may want to choose a domestic partnership as opposed to going through traditional marriage.

  • Many couples want to avoid religious and/or patriarchal connotations associated with marriage
  • Some people do not want to be married twice after being widowed or divorced

Does a domestic partnership differ from a marriage in any way?

Those who are now allowed to enter into domestic partnerships will have the same rights that same-sex domestic partners have already been granted, including:

  • Allowing each person to be able to take their partner’s last name
  • Protections for the surviving domestic partner if the other dies
  • Legal rights and obligations related to raising children born during the domestic partnership
  • The ability to adopt a child to the other domestic partner
  • The ability to add a domestic partner to state health benefits of the other
  • The right to own community property

How are domestic partnerships affected by divorce?

Not all domestic partnerships necessarily end in divorce. Those who have been partnered for less than five years, do not have any children, and meet certain property requirements can separate by filling out a “termination of domestic partnership” form that is available from the Secretary of State. Those who do not meet that criteria mentioned above will go through a separation process similar to traditional married couples getting divorced.

We can help you through your situation

If you are going through a divorce or separation, or are considering doing so, you need to speak with a skilled attorney as soon as possible. This process can become complicated, but the team at the Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi will work to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process. We are capable of handling all aspects of a divorce or separation case, including property division, child custody and visitation, child support, and more. Let our Westlake Village family law attorneys help you today. You can contact us for a consultation by clicking here or calling 805-379-4550.

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