Domestic Partnership Equality Act Adds to Domestic Partnership Rights

California’s residential partnership laws do not offer all of the rights of marital relationship. On October 9, 2011 the law-makers and Governor Brown corrected some of the inequity by passing the Domestic Partnership Equality Act. Effective next January, the law will provide for several rights currently existing in marital relationship.

Most notably, the law will permit same-sex couples wed in California but living in states that do not recognize their marital relationship, to obtain divorce in California. Formerly, these couples were stuck in limbo– unable to obtain divorce status, and having a marriage only acknowledged in particular states.

This provision of the law remedies a serious conundrum for same-sex couples. The Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) allows states to not acknowledge same-sex marital relationships consummated in another state. Numerous people wishing to wed their same-sex partner go to one of the couple of spots permitting it, but then are shocked to see they can not get separated in their house state when the marital relationship dissolves. Same-sex marital relationship then becomes a prison instead of a liberating institution. Just six states, Washington D.C. and 2 nations countries have marital equality. 30 states ban same-sex marriage by constitutional amendment and 11 states ban it by statute alone.

This arrangement of the Domestic Partnership Equality Act right away applies to marriages entered into prior to Proposition 8 passed and will apply to future marriages if Proposition 8 is ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

Second, under the new law, couples will no longer have to share a common residence in order to qualify as domestic partners. This is currently the case with marriages.

Third, the law further enables individuals under the age of 18 to come to be residential partners, though they would need a court order and the consent of their parent or guardian.

Finally, The Residential Partnership Equality Act allows domestic partners to enter into a confidential domestic partnership. The documentation they submit with the Secretary of State would remain sealed unless opened by Court order. This innovation brings domestic partnership closer in positioning with marriage, which enables confidential marriages.

The domestic partnership laws are complex and still differ significantly from marriage. Additionally, since federal policy varies from state policy, domestic partners additionally have distinct challenges dealing with the federal government. Many couples desiring to become part of a domestic partnership attempt to smooth out the wrinkles in domestic partnership with a prenuptial contract. A couple wishing to become part of a domestic partnership is smart to consult with a seasoned family law attorney.

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