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State Laws: Domestic Partnerships

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, individuals in committed same-sex partnerships were given the option of a domestic partnership in many states where marriage was not available. Now that marriage equality is federal law, domestic partnerships and civil unions are much less popular. What's more, many employers are no longer extending benefits to domestic partners (since marriage is available for LGBT partners).

But there are instances where unmarried couples may choose to forego marriage in favor of a domestic partnership. Unmarried cohabitants should check with the state and local laws in their jurisdictions to determine what rights may be available to them.

As of September 2015, the status of domestic partner benefits (in light of the Obergefell decision) remains unclear.

Alabama Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Alaska Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Arizona The cities of Phoenix and Tucson extend benefits to domestic partners.
Arkansas Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
California The following cities and counties extend benefits to domestic partners: Alameda County, Berkeley, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Marin County, Oakland, Petaluma, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County, Ventura County, West Hollywood. The following cities and counties offer domestic partner registries: Arcata, Berkeley, Cathedral City, Davis, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Oakland, Palo Alto, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Barbara County, and West Hollywood.
Colorado The city of Denver extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Connecticut The state extends benefits to domestic partners. The city of Hartford extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Delaware Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Florida Broward County extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry. The city of West Palm Beach extends benefits to domestic partners.
Georgia The city of Atlanta extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Hawaii The state extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Idaho Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Illinois The city of Chicago and Cook County extend benefits to domestic partners. The city of Oak Park extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Indiana The city of Bloomington extends benefits to domestic partners.
Iowa The city of Iowa City extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Kansas Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Kentucky Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Louisiana The city of New Orleans extends benefits to domestic partners.
Maine The city of Portland extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Maryland The cities of Baltimore and Takoma Park and Montgomery County extend benefits to domestic partners.
Massachusettes The following cities extend benefits to domestic partners: Boston, Brewster, Brookline, Nantucket, Provincetown, and Springfield. The following cities provide domestic partner registries: Boston, Brewster, Brookline, Cambridge, Nantucket, and Northampton.
Michigan The city of Kalamazoo, Washtenaw County, and Wayne County extend benefits to domestic partners. The cities of Ann Arbor and East Lansing extend benefits to domestic partners and provide a domestic partner registry.
Minnesota The city of Minneapolis extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
Mississippi Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Missouri The city of St. Louis provides a domestic partner registry.
Montana Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Nebraska Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Nevada Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
New Hampshire Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
New Jersey The city of Delaware extends benefits to domestic partners.
New Mexico The city of Albuquerque extends benefits to domestic partners.
New York The following cities and counties extend benefits to domestic partners: Brighton, Eastchester, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, and West-chester County. The following cities provide domestic partner registries: Albany, Ithaca, New York City, and Rochester.
North Carolina The city of Chapel Hill extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry. The city of Carrboro also provides a domestic partner registry.
North Dakota Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Ohio Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Oklahoma Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Oregon The state extends benefits to domestic partners. The city of Portland and Multnomah County extend benefits to domestic partners. The city of Ashland provides a domestic partner registry.
Pennsylvania The city of Philadelphia extends benefits to domestic partners.
Rhode Island Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
South Carolina Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Tennessee Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Texas Travis County extends benefits to domestic partners.
Utah Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Vermont The state is the first to recognize "civil unions," which extends rights to homosexual partners that are similar to rights granted to married couples. The state also extends benefits to domestic partners.
Virginia Arlington County extends benefits to domestic partners.
Washington The state extends benefits to domestic partners. The cities of Olympia and Tumwater and King County extend benefits to domestic partners. The city of Lacey provides a domestic partner registry. The city of Seattle extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry.
West Virginia Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.
Wisconsin The city of Madison extends benefits to domestic partners and provides a domestic partner registry. The city of Sherwood Hills Village and Dane County extend benefits to domestic relations. The city of Milwaukee provides a domestic partner registry.
Wyoming Neither the state nor any municipality in the state provides specific rights to domestic partners.

Free Evaluation of Your Domestic Partnership

Although domestic partnerships may be less common due to the legalization of same-sex marriage, as you can see, many states still recognize these legal relationships and the benefits associated with them. Based on the laws of your state, there may still be reasons to utilize a domestic partnership instead of marriage, particularly with respect to how your property is to be characterized. Reach out to an attorney today to obtain a free initial case review.

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