Family Law

Domestic Partnership Vs Marriage – Things You Should Know

11 November, 2021


No Comments »

At the very start of this article about domestic partnership vs marriage, I would like to mention that there are a lot of differences between domestic partnership and marriage. When it comes to formalizing your relationships with your partners, there are two different ways.

Of course, they have both advantages and disadvantages of their own. On the basis of your preferences, the unique benefits will help you decide which one will be more appropriate for you between domestic partnership vs marriage.

Thus, before taking a final decision, you should know enough about domestic partnership vs marriage. You also have to remember that compared to heterosexual marriage, domestic partnerships have some limitations. 


What Is A Domestic Partnership?

What Is A Domestic Partnership?

Initially, domestic partnerships were created in order to offer basic economic and legal protections to same-sex couples. Across the USA, same-sex marriage is legal.

Individuals still can prefer domestic partnership over marriage due to several reasons. Apart from the obvious benefits, there is also some lack of things one can get only by marrying their partner. Even within the USA, domestic partnerships are not accepted the same way as marriage. 

Benefits Of Domestic Partnership

After getting the basic idea, it is time to have a look at the benefits of domestic partnership vs marriage.

  • It is a legal alternative to marriage. 
  • It offers full legal obligations and rights, which are related to raising a child who is born during the domestic partnership. 
  • Domestic partners are able to avoid the “marriage tax penalty.” Often it forces married couples into an increased tax bracket. 
  • Domestic partners also can adopt a child born of one of the partners before the domestic partnership. 
  • Generally, partners are able to get coverage on a family health insurance policy. 
  • For sick partners, they can take family leave. 
  • Domestic partners have the right to bereavement leave. 
  • Domestic partners also have visitation rights in jails and hospitals. 

What Is Marriage?

What Is Marriage?

Well, we all are quite aware of what a marriage is. It is a legally binding and federally recognized affair, which comes with more than thousands of benefits. Some of the benefits are not offered in domestic partnerships. 

Benefits Of Marriage

Here are the benefits of marriage vs domestic partnership. Let’s have a look at them.

  • Get financial support from your spouse. 
  • Inherit estate of your spouse. 
  • Transfer an unlimited assets amount to your spouse without any tax.
  • Get pension, social security, and veterans benefit through your spouse. 
  • During divorces, divide marital assets. 
  • For immigration, you can sponsor your spouse.

Though it might not be technically a benefit of marriage, still we can say that when it comes to domestic partnership vs marriage, marriages are more recognized and accepted by individuals.

It is because marriages are a traditional and more familiar way of acknowledging a relationship, people see it as more acknowledging and acceptable. It is really unfortunate that people in domestic partnerships often find they are less respected than their other marriage counterparts. 

The Difference Between Domestic partnership Vs Marriage

From the above discussion, you might have developed a piece of knowledge of the basic differences of domestic partnership vs marriage. Still here for your benefit, I am offering a brief guide about the differences between domestic partnership vs marriage.

The different points are more on the aspect of financial advantages and disadvantages.

Domestic PartnershipMarriage
Sharing all those retirement benefits might be complicated. Spousal retirement benefits are always easier to access. 
No special assets are transferred. In most states, one can go with an unlimited amount of asset transfer. 
Might not have access to health insurance for a partner. (depends on the state law)Marriages have total access to health insurance for spouses. 
Domestic partners can avoid the marriage tax penalty. For marriages, tax deductions are larger and have an exemption on gift tax. 
In the separation of domestic partners, there is no financial protection. In divorce, marriages have financial protection.
Domestic partners might not have survivor benefits.For marriages, clear spousal death benefits are available. 
Domestic partnerships are not recognized or acknowledged in all states. Marriages are undoubtedly recognized in all states. 

The Financial Difference Between Marriage Vs Domestic Partnership    

As I have mentioned earlier when it comes to the financial implications for domestic partnership vs marriage. Here I will tell you about their key areas.

i. Sharing Retirement And Health Benefits

All marriage partners always have the access to a spousal IRA. Upon the death of the partner, one can roll over the IRA of a spouse. When it comes to taking Social Security Benefits, married partners also have more options than domestic partners generally have.

In case you are married, you will automatically be covered by the health benefits of your partners. So, in domestic partners and marriage, this one is a pretty standard benefit. On the contrary, sharing retirement benefits for domestic partners could be a little more complex.

It will also leave you with higher taxes. Being a domestic partner, you might be offered a lack of coverage through the employer-sponsored health insurance of your partner. In case you are willing to do that, it will be considered as a taxable benefit.

ii. Survivor Benefits

Suppose you are married, and your partner passed away without making a will; you will be in a much safer financial state than a domestic partner would be. Every state always recognizes the right to inherit at least a portion of the assets of their deceased spouse when it is about married couples.

On the contrary, when it comes to domestic partners, different states have different laws and recognitions. There are some limitations to survivor, pension, and death benefits of domestic partners.

iii. Asset Protection

When you are legally married, and if the situation of a divorce arises, you will be in a better protected financial status. Here, you will always be entitled to the division of marital assets, along with potential spousal support.

In some states, the right might be the same for domestic partners, but at the same time, exact laws vary significantly. So, in terms of domestic partner vs marriage, asset protection is not that effective.

iv. Tax Benefits

Tax Benefits

The marriage deal will get sweetened due to the tax season, as there are a lot of tax benefits couples enjoy after tying the knot. The tax deduction will double for the individuals. Being a married couple, you and your partner are eligible for a larger home sale exclusion.

Also, an unlimited amount of assets can be transferred between married couples. In the future, if you are willing to gift money to your family, your tax exemption will be doubled. On the other hand, domestic partners avoid the marriage tax penalty.

It means that couples who are roughly earning the same will get penalized in general, particularly during tax time. It is because domestic partners tend to move up a tax bracket in a quicker manner.

You should not be confused about it with the marriage bonus. In this, one person earns considerably less than the other partner, so delaying the tax bracket jump.

v. State Recognition

Most probably the most prominent drawback of domestic partnership vs marriage is that the rights vary majorly in different states. Some of the states, which recognize domestic partnerships are as follows.

  • The district of Columbia.
  • Washington State.
  • Oregon.
  • Hawaii.
  • New Jersey.
  • California.
  • Nevada.

However, other states do not have any. By city, the rules also vary. The lack of rights in domestic partnership might often lead to a big effect on your finances. So, before getting into it, you should consider it as a crucial point.

Domestic Partnership Vs Marriage: The Right One For You

If you are in the dilemma of choosing a domestic partnership vs marriage, it will be best to consider all these factors before making the final decision. Everything depends on the law of the particular states, along with the values you are holding.

Securing all the possible benefits of your financial status will always need a lot of leg work and proper planning than a usual marriage. So, it will be better to discuss everything with an experienced lawyer. The professional will know every legal thing and can guide you properly.

State Laws On Marriage And Domestic Partnership

State laws in the United States of America on the subjects of domestic partnerships and marriage. These are the matters that fall under the state jurisdiction. This balance of power between state-made laws and federal laws is of utmost importance. This is why the federal structure of the United States stays intact to date. When dealing with the difference between these two concepts, we need to check what the state laws of the US have to say about domestic partnerships and marriage.

State Laws On Marriage

Each state has a minimum legal age requirement for marriage. It is mostly the same as the age of majority, which is 18 years old. While some states may have provisions that do not punish minors for marriage. However, a premium condition in these cases is that the marriage should take place with parental consent.

Couples should get a marriage license from the office of their county clerk. For a couple to get a valid marriage license, they have to go through a waiting period.

Most states make it mandatory to hold a marriage ceremony. It is not the same as a wedding ceremony. A clergy member, judge, or other authorized officials can carry out the ceremony. Witnesses, however, are a mandatory provision under most state laws. 

State Laws On Domestic Partnership

Now, the biggest point of difference between marriage and domestic partnerships is that not all states legally recognize domestic partnerships. Each state also has its own set of eligibility criteria. State laws also govern the rights that a person gets when in a domestic partnership.

Domestic partners in some states have similar legal rights and benefits as those of married couples. These benefits may include health insurance coverage, inheritance, etc.

Under state laws that recognize domestic partnerships, couples usually need to register their partnership with a recognized government agency. They can also visit the nearest registrar’s office or the city clerk’s office for registration. The process involves paperwork, after which the couple has to pay a fee.

Much like marriage, when you want to end a domestic partnership, you will have to go through a formal process. The process has similar steps to that of a divorce. The couple will need to file paperwork and get a court order.

Domestic partners to have legal responsibilities similar to that of a married couple. They can be required to give financial support or make medical decisions for one another.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When it is about domestic partnership vs marriage there can be several doubts and confusions. So I have tried to cover all the things you should know before making the decision. Here I am also answering some of the common questions.

Q1: Is Domestic Partnership Better Than Marriage?

Ans: In domestic partnership and marriage, marriages always come with more benefits. In all states and most countries also, marriages are recognized. But when it comes to domestic partnership, as I have already mentioned, it is not recognized in most of the states of the United States of America.

Q2: What Is The Downside Of Domestic Partnership?

Ans: I have already discussed the potential drawbacks of domestic partnership vs marriage. In case a domestic partner is dissolved, the laws of community property mean that the higher paid person in the domestic partnership might not share income and assets with the former partner. At the same time, couples who are coping with domestic issues will not get any benefits from registration.

Q3: Is Domestic Partner Same As Spouse?

Ans: When it comes to domestic partners of the same or opposite sex, they usually live together but are not considered formally married couples. So, a domestic partner is not considered as a spouse and also has some limited benefits as per the state laws.

Q4: Can Straight Couples Get Domestic Partnerships?

Ans: SB 30 offers heterosexual couples the choice of becoming registered domestic partners under the state law of California. From the Family Code, this specific law also amends some sections, which deal with adding heterosexual couples primarily to those specific sections, which held only for the heterosexual or same-sex couples previously over 62 years of age.

Final Thought

These are all you need to know about domestic partnership vs marriage. It is best to take legal help from an experienced and specialized legal practitioner when you are about to take the ultimate decision. For any queries you also can mention here, I will try to come up with the most suitable solution as soon as possible.

Share This Article


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


marriage lawyer
How To Get A Divorce
Divorce Settlement Agreement