Why Would You Need a Domestic Partnership Agreement?

Domestic partnerships, whether they be heterosexual or homosexual, are recognized in Florida. Florida legalized same-sex marriages in the state on January 6, 2015. In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the whole country and required all states to recognize legally performed same-sex marriages that came to be in other jurisdictions. However, domestic partnerships are still a valid, legal arrangement in Florida.

What is a Domestic Partnership Agreement?

A domestic partnership agreement is an arrangement between two people, whether they are same-sex partners or heterosexuals. The agreement addresses important aspects of the relationship, usually dealing with financial, property, and health care rights. This document outlines what will happen to you and your partner’s assets if the relationship is terminated or if one of the partners passes away.

How is a Domestic Partnership Agreement Different from Marriage?

Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples when it comes to probate laws and divorce laws. A domestic partnership agreement addresses this issue by setting out most of the aspects of the relationship that would have been dealt with if they were married.

Typical benefits addressed in a domestic partnership agreement include:

  • The right to use family leave when you have a sick partner
  • The right to use bereavement leave if your partner passes away
  • Providing for visitation rights in jails and hospitals
  • Allowing for health care coverage on family health insurance policies

When You May Need a Domestic Partnership Agreement

There many reasons the couple may choose to use a domestic partnership agreement instead of getting married, regardless of whether they are a same-sex couple or a heterosexual one.

  1. The couple does not want to get married.

There may be some reason that the couple does not want to get married, whether it is for personal reasons or perhaps due to family expectations. For example, religion may play a role in the decision to marry as a same-sex couple. Elderly couples may not want to go through the time and hassle of actually getting married. Some benefits, such as workers’ compensation death benefits from a former spouse, will end if the widow remarries. Creating a properly drafted domestic partnership agreement may avoid the problem of losing these benefits.

  1. The couple wants to define property rights in the relationship.

A domestic partnership agreement can set out specifically who owns what and how assets acquired in the relationship will be divided in the event of a separation. In this way, a domestic partnership agreement acts somewhat like a prenuptial agreement.

  1. The couple wants to avoid the marriage tax penalty.

In some situations, married couples end up paying more in taxes than they would if they were single. In those circumstances, it may make sense for the couple to create a domestic partnership agreement, which allows them many of the benefits of marriage while also avoiding the increase in income taxes.

A domestic partnership agreement may be a good idea for many types of couples. If you are considering creating one for your situation, give us a call. We can help you decide whether creating this agreement is the right choice and assist you by drafting it to fit your needs.

Luis E. Barreto