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New Domestic Partnership Rules

New Domestic Partnership Rules

The rules on Registered Domestic Partnerships changed significantly starting on January 1, 2020.

Whereas in the past, domestic partnerships could be registered between same sex couples, and between opposite sex couples where one partner is over age 62, starting on January 1, 2020, everyone, regardless of gender, and so long that they are single and over age 18, can enter into a registered domestic partnership by filing with the California Secretary of State.

It is notable that domestic partners enjoy the same rights, protections, and benefits as do spouses under California law, including the right to use sick time, take protected leave pursuant to the California Family Rights Act, or receive Paid Family Leave benefits from the State, in order to care for a spouse with a qualifying health issue, among other rights.

The new rules are codified in California Family Code section 297. Click here to see all the applicable legislation and the rules on registering as well as terminating domestic partnerships.

California Family Code section 299.2 also recognizes as a valid domestic partnership the legal union of any two persons, other than a marriage, that was validly formed in another jurisdiction and that is substantially equivalent to a California domestic partnership. California’s prior law only recognized such unions if entered into between two persons of the same sex.

The new rules on domestic partnerships are sweeping. By making it so easy to create a legal bond between two adults, the question arises as to joint ownership of property and assets when the partnerships break up.

Setting up a COHABITATION AGREEMENT is a good way to anticipate and facilitate such division of property, and to significantly minimize legal fees of litigating the issues.