Choosing A Domestic Partnership Over Marriage
When you are in a committed relationship with another person, whether it is someone of your own or the opposite sex, there may come a time when you both make the decision to move in together and establish a shared residence. Marriage is now a viable option for gay couples as well as their heterosexual counterparts, but one or both of you may have serious reservations when it comes to taking the plunge. If you have strongly held views against the institution of marriage or are simply not ready to take that step, a domestic partnership might be something to consider. These agreements do afford some valuable legal protections you would not be entitled to otherwise, but while not as legally binding as marriage, there are complications that can come up if you choose to terminate the relationship.
Advantages Of A Domestic Partnership
As Florida does not have statewide laws governing civil unions or domestic partnerships, each county or city in the state is left to develop its own guidelines and regulations on these matters as it affects residents. Prior to changes in marriage equality laws in 2015, domestic partnerships were a way for gay couples to obtain some for the rights and privileges granted to legally married couples. Under Broward County domestic partnership guidelines, a couple can enter into this type of agreement provided they are over the age of 18, not related, are residents of Broward County, and are not currently married or listed as being involved in another partnership. Advantages of being in a domestic partnership include the following:
- Allows access to information and authorization for visits and decision making at county health care facilities;
- Allows visitation for partners incarcerated at the county detention facility;
- Provides notification as next of kin in the event of an emergency;
- Permits your partner to be considered as a decedent in the event of your death and in dealing with funeral and burial services.
In addition to the above, the Florida Public Human Resources Association (FPHRA) advises that, in some situations, being in a domestic partnership may allow your partner access to benefits from employee sponsored health plans.
Complications With Ending Your Domestic Partnership
While a domestic partnership is not as legally binding as a marriage certificate, complications can arise if you choose to end the relationship. You will be required to notify Broward County of the change, and if you have children together, own joint property, or have jointly held accounts, disputes can easily arise. A properly drafted legal agreement can help to address some of these issues prior to registering as a domestic partners, while other issues may only be able to be resolved through an attorney once the relationship has ended.
Contact Us for Professional Help
If you are considering entering a domestic partnership, or are currently in one you are looking to end, contact our experienced Florida divorce attorney today. At the Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we act as a strong legal advocate in this situations, to help ensure your rights and interests are protected. We serve Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding areas; call or contact our office online today for a confidential case consultation.