California Domestic Partners
Please note this information is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. Consult an attorney to receive legal advice relevant to your domestic partnership and your local laws.
The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality ruling has no impact on the California domestic partnership laws. This is because domestic partnerships have different legal protections and benefits to marriage. The normal processes will remain in place
- Marriage licenses will continue to be handled by county governments
- California domestic partnership applications will continue to be handled by the California Secretary of State’s Office
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for California Domestic Partners?
The eligibility requirements for California domestic partners is detailed in California Family Code section 297.
If one of the domestic partners is under the age of 18, but otherwise satisfies the requirements for a California domestic partnership, they can apply with the written consent of a parent or guardian. They must also apply for a court order that provides permission for the underage partner to apply for a domestic partnership. The couple must make a certified copy of the court order to file with the California Secretary of State when they send their Declaration of Domestic Partnership.
How to Apply For a California Domestic Partnership
Firstly, check that you meet the California Family Code section 297 eligibility requirements. If so:
- Complete the Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1
- Notarize the signatures of both partners
- Obtain any additional documents like parental permission or court order
- Submit all documents and the fee to the California Secretary of State
If you wish to enter a confidential California domestic partnership, then complete the steps above but fill out a different form. The form you need to fill out is Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A.
Once your California domestic partnership is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Registration of Domestic Partnership. You will also be sent a brochure by the State Department of Public Health with information.
Do I Need to Obtain Certified Copies of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership?
Yes, certified copies are available for an additional fee. You should request a couple as entities may request proof of your domestic partnership. Medical insurance companies, your employer’s insurance company, Social Security, and the DMV will all need a copy. California law states that a certified copy of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership is sufficient proof of the domestic partnership, and all entities must accept it.
What Is the Difference Between a Domestic Partnership and a Confidential Domestic Partnership?
The Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership registry is not open to the public, and only a member of the domestic partnership can obtain a copy of their partnership. To do so, submit a completed Confidential Domestic Partnership Records Order Form. If another person wants a copy of the record, they must obtain a court order.
Do California Domestic Partners Have to Reregister?
No, unless there is a specific statute stating, so that applies to the domestic partnership. At the moment, there is no legal requirement to reregister a domestic partnership.
Are We Still Considered Domestic Partners If We Don’t Register?
No, if you do not register your domestic partnership, it will not be recognized by law and you will not receive the legal benefits and protections. The paperwork is straightforward and can be accessed online, so it is not a difficult process to complete.
How to End a California Domestic Partnership?
As long as the domestic partnership meets the requirements of California Family Code section 299(a), then the termination process is simple. Fill out Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership Form NP/SF DP-2 and file it with the Secretary of State’s Office. In some cases, you may need to start a dissolution process with the Superior Court. If the requirements of California Family Code section 299 are not met, then the domestic partnership must be terminated by the Superior Court.
If you are looking to end a California domestic partnership, you should consult a lawyer to get practical advice for your circumstances.
The effective date of the termination will be six months after filing for termination. If one of the partners filed a Form NP/SF DP-3 Revocation of Termination of Domestic Partnership in the meantime, then the termination will not go into effect.
If you get married later, then you can terminate both the marriage and the domestic partnership in one proceeding by filing a petition in California Superior Court. You will need the help of an attorney to do so.
What Are the Differences Between a California Domestic Partnership and Marriage?
California provides domestic partners with many of the same rights, benefits, and protections as a marriage. The duties, obligations, and responsibilities are the same too. A full list is detailed in California Family Code, beginning with section 297. If you have specific questions about your rights, then you should seek the counsel of an attorney. They will be able to provide you with information relevant to your circumstances.
Can The Declaration of Domestic Partnership Be Updated If I Change My Name?
Either of the domestic partners can change their name when registering for the domestic partnership. They can change their middle or last names as part of the process. Read the California Family Code sections 298, 298.5 and 298.6 for more information about name changes and domestic partnership.
If you change your name after you have registered for a domestic partnership, there is no legal provision for name changes. You will need to keep a certified copy of your name change documents.
Is the California Domestic Partnership Registry Confidential?
The California Domestic Partnership Registry is not confidential. If you do not want your domestic partnership registration accessible to the public, you need to fill out the Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A. This record is not open to the public, and only the domestic partners can access the record. If someone else needs to access the record, they must obtain a court order.
Do We Need to Be California Residents to Apply For a California Domestic Partnership?
No, there are no residency requirements in the law. Check California Family Code, beginning with section 297(b), for the full list of requirements.
The necessary forms are available online to digitally fill out and print. You must both physically sign the form and have your signatures notarized. Any notary public can notarize your signatures, even if they are out of state. You can then post the documents and fees or return them in person.
What Financial Benefits Are There to a Domestic Partnership
Read the California Family Code, beginning with section 297 for a list of the benefits and protections provided by a domestic partnership. If you have specific questions about insurance or other financial benefits, you should seek the counsel of a lawyer. They will be able to give you accurate information about your circumstances.
Domestic partnerships are treated differently to marriages in the eyes of the federal government. So please note you will not receive the same tax or legal benefits as a marriage for federal matters. Read the IRS FAQ for Registered Domestic Partners to learn more about federal taxes for domestic partners.