People in California who are in committed relationships but don't want to get married might have the option of entering into a domestic partnership. These partnerships aren't available to all couples, but for couples who qualify, they might be a viable way to confirm the relationship. It is important for anyone who is interested in a domestic partnership to understand some basic points about these unions.
Who can enter into a domestic partnership?
The laws in California are based on age and sexual orientation. A same-sex couple must have one person who is 62 years old or older and meet certain requirements in order to enter into the partnership. An opposite-sex couple has to be over age 18. Entering into a domestic partnership before turning 18 is possible if the underage partner has a court order giving permission for the union to occur.
How do I enter into a domestic partnership?
In order to register a domestic partnership in the state, you have to submit a form and pay a fee to the Secretary of State. Form NP/SF DP-1 must be signed by both parties and notarized. If you wish the domestic partnership to remain confidential, you should file a Form NP/SF DP-1A.
Why should we register with the state?
California grants rights to couples who are in a domestic partnership. Those rights aren't in effect until you register the partnership with the state. Even if you register with the town in which you live, you still can't enjoy the rights afforded if you register with the state.
A domestic partnership is a serious commitment. Anyone who is considering entering into one should make sure he or she fully understands what it means prior to signing the form.
Source: California Secretary of State, "Frequently Asked Questions" Dec. 16, 2014