A domestic partnership is a legally recognized relationship between two people who are not married. A domestic partnership and a marriage function quite similarly, but do have some legal differences.
Who Can Enter A Domestic Partnership?
Each state has different laws about who is eligible for a domestic partnership.
To be eligible in Oregon:
- You must be in a heterosexual or same-sex couple
- You must be at least 18 years old
- One member of the partnership must be an Oregon resident
- You cannot be married, or in a domestic partnership, with any other person in another jurisdiction
- You cannot be biologically related
- You must be mentally competent and willing to enter a domestic partnership
Entering A Domestic Partnership
No formal ceremony is required to enter a domestic partnership. Instead, the couple is simply required to file a signed and notarized ‘Declaration of Domestic Partnership’ form. Once this is completed, they are officially in a registered domestic partnership.
Registered vs. Unregistered Domestic Partnership
Oregon recognizes both registered and unregistered domestic partnerships. Registered partnerships meet the eligibility requirements listed above and enter into an official legal contract.
Unregistered domestic partners, however, are not required to meet all of the above criteria and do not enter into an official contract. Rather, a couple who has cohabitated for many years and shares income, assets, and property can enter an unregistered domestic partnership.
What if We Want to Get Married Eventually?
If you are currently in a domestic partnership and want to go forward with a legal marriage, you will first need to formally end your domestic partnership.
Benefits of Domestic Partnership
Being in a domestic partnership allows for many of the same benefits as marriage.
Filing Joint Taxes
This is one of the main reasons why couples choose to register as domestic partners.
Joint filers typically get the largest tax deductions. Also, filing joint state and federal taxes allows for couples to be eligible for more tax credits, including:
- Earned income tax credit
- American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning education credits
- Adoption expenses
- Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
Domestic partners are eligible to be covered by their partner’s health insurance, just like married spouses are.
Being in a registered domestic partnership grants each party a number of legal rights.
One of these rights is the ability to sue for the wrongful death of their partner. Typically, a spouse is the first person eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, domestic partners are also given this right.
Another one of these legal rights is in regards to inheritance. Being in a legally recognized domestic partnership allows one partner to automatically inherit property from another partner, should they die without a will.
Ending Domestic Partnerships
If you are ready to end your relationship with your domestic partner, you must start by filing a ‘Petition for Dissolution.’ Your partner will then file a ‘Response to Petition for Dissolution.’
You also have the option of filing a joint petition.
Like at the end of a marriage, arrangements will be made for:
- The separation of assets, debts, property
- Child custody
- Child support
- Partner support, the domestic partnership equivalent to alimony
The relationship is officially dissolved when a judgment is signed by the court.
If you and your domestic partner separated but never formally ended your domestic partnership, you will need to do this before you can remarry, or enter another partnership with someone else.
Bend Family Law Lawyers
If you and your partner are considering filing for a domestic partnership, Baxter Harder, LLC can help. We can help guide you through this process and ensure you fulfill the state requirements.
Give us a call today at (541) 238-9210 to get started.