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What should I know about domestic partnerships?

While the legalization of same-sex marriage has caused domestic partnerships to go by the wayside to some degree, some couples are still not interested in having a legal marriage but do wish to have certain benefits. Entering into a domestic partnership is one option for this, but it's important to be aware of the pros and cons.

Up until recently, domestic partners were able to get access to many of the same employer benefits as married couples. Health insurance, death benefits and family leave were some of those popular reasons to go into a domestic partnership. However, now that same-sex couples do have the option of a legal marriage, more and more employers are changing their benefits to exclude domestic partners. This means that couples who want to retain their benefits would be forced to legally marry.

While this may not seem like a big deal at first, the idea of same-sex marriage is still relatively new in the eyes of the law, and it has yet to be seen what will happen if and when these couples come to divorce. There have already been some cases that have highlighted the unique custody and support issues that often arise in these situations, and the law is still struggling to catch up to the changing times.

While it's true that it may be more difficult to get employer benefits if you are in a domestic partnership, these unions are easier to dissolve than marriages, which continues to make them a valid option. If you have questions about whether a domestic partnership is an option for you or are considering ending your marriage and aren't sure where to start, a family law attorney can help.

Source: Findlaw, "Domestic Partner Benefits," accessed Feb. 12, 2016

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