Domestic Partnership Registry Succeeding in Pinellas County
In 2012, Gulfport became the first city in Pinellas County to approve a domestic partnership registry, allowing couples who have registered to receive certain legal benefits typically reserved for married couples. Gulfport’s approval was quickly followed by the cities of Clearwater and St. Petersburg. However, domestic partnership benefits were reserved for residents of those cities. In 2013, the county approved a domestic partnership registry, extending benefits to residents living anywhere within the county’s borders.
Just over one year after the Pinellas County approval, more than 405 couples have signed on to the domestic partnership registry. First-time registrants are required to pay a $50 fee, while couples who have already registered in one of the previously approved cities are offered a discounted rate. The registry is an aid for same-sex couples in a state that does not recognize gay marriage, but according to Pinellas County officials, many heterosexual couples have also signed on.
Those who have signed on to the registry are reporting that they have gained significant benefits. Registered partners have the right to make medical decisions for one another in times of crisis, visit each other in hospitals, make funeral and burial decisions and, if allowed by the specific employer, join their partner’s health insurance plan. They also have the right to make decisions regarding the education of their partner’s dependents.
Every domestic partnership registry has set specific requirements, which must be satisfied before the appropriate steps can be taken to sign up. In addition, although domestic partnerships provide couples with certain protections, they lack many benefits that a traditional marriage provides. In many cases, a secure estate plan is needed to guarantee these benefits.
A skilled lawyer will be able to help with every step of this process, from the initial registration to future planning. If you are preparing to enter into a domestic partnership, consult a knowledgeable family law attorney in Fort Lauderdale.