Domestic Partnership Agreements- NY Alternative To Marriage?

Happy young couple getting married

A domestic partnership is a legally recognized relationship between two people who live together and share a domestic life, but who are not married. In the state of New York, domestic partnerships are recognized both at the state level and in the city of New York. This article will discuss the history of domestic partnerships in New York, the requirements for forming a domestic partnership, the benefits of a domestic partnership, and the process for registering a domestic partnership in New York State and New York City.

History of Domestic Partnerships in New York State and New York City

In 1983, New York City became the first city in the United States to recognize domestic partnerships. In the ensuing years Domestic Partnership Agreements in New York went through various permutations of executive agreements and different laws for NYC and NYS. It should be recongized that, prior to the legaliation of same sex marriage, the main source of domestic partnerships were same sex couples.

In 1998, New York State created the Domestic Partnership Registration Law, which allowed both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to register as domestic partners. The law granted some of the same rights and benefits as married couples, such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and the ability to make medical decisions for one another.

In 2011, New York State legalized same-sex marriage, which made domestic partnerships largely obsolete for same-sex couples. However, opposite-sex couples who do not wish to get married can still register as domestic partners in New York State and New York City.

Some unmarried couples may not wish to add the state as a full “third party” in their relationship, and wish to avoid all of the legal entanglements of marriage. In some cases, where one of the spouses has little or no income, he or she would be reluctant to give up various government benefits, such as free or very low-cost health insurance, which could happen if the couple were to marry.

Requirements for Forming a Domestic Partnership

To form a domestic partnership in New York State, both parties must be at least 18 years of age and not related by blood. They must also be residents of New York State, or at least one of the parties must be a resident of New York State and the other party must be employed in New York State.

In addition to these requirements, both parties must be in a committed, exclusive relationship and share a domestic life. They must also not be married or in another domestic partnership.

Benefits of a Domestic Partnership

There are several benefits to registering as domestic partners in New York State and New York City. Some of these benefits include:

Health Insurance: Many employers offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of their employees.

Inheritance Rights: Domestic partners have the right to inherit from each other in the absence of a will.

Property Ownership: Domestic partners can jointly own property and share in its ownership and appreciation.

Division of Assets: In the event of a separation or dissolution of the partnership, assets can be divided according to a written agreement between the parties.

Child Custody: Domestic partners can make decisions regarding child custody and support.

Tax Benefits: Domestic partners can file joint tax returns in New York State, which can lead to significant tax savings.

Hospital Visitation: Domestic partners have the right to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions for one another.

Death Benefits: Domestic partners are entitled to death benefits and survivor benefits from each other.

Registration Process for Domestic Partnerships in New York State and New York City

To register as domestic partners in New York State, both parties must fill out an affidavit of domestic partnership form, which is available on the New York State Department of Health website or at the local county clerk’s office. The form requires basic information about both parties, including their names, addresses, and social security numbers. The parties must also sign the form in the presence of a notary public.

In addition to the application, both parties must provide proof of residency in New York City, such as a utility bill or lease agreement. If one or both parties are not residents of New York City, they must provide proof of substantial connection to the city, such as a letter from an employer or proof of enrollment in a New York City school.

In addition to the affidavit of domestic partnership form, both parties must pay a registration fee, which varies depending on the county in which they reside. The fee can be paid by check, money order, or credit card.

Once the form and fee have been submitted, the domestic partnership is registered with the New York State Department of Health. The parties will receive a certificate of domestic partnership, which they can use to prove their relationship for various purposes, such as applying for health insurance benefits or making medical decisions for one another.

Statistics on Domestic Partnerships in New York State and New York City

While domestic partnerships were once more popular in New York State and New York City, their popularity has waned in recent years. According to the New York State Department of Health, there were only 342 domestic partnerships registered in the state in 2020, down from 1,756 in 2011. In New York City, there were only 259 domestic partnerships registered in 2020, down from 1,302 in 2011.

There are several reasons why domestic partnerships may be less popular than they once were. One reason is that same-sex couples can now legally marry in New York State and New York City, which provides them with many of the same rights and benefits as married couples. Another reason is that some couples may not see the need to register as domestic partners if they do not plan to have children or jointly own property.

Conclusion

Domestic partnerships provide many of the same rights and benefits as marriage, without the legal and financial complexities that can arise from marriage. While their popularity has waned in recent years, they remain a viable option for couples who do not wish to get married or who cannot legally marry. If you are considering registering as domestic partners in New York State or New York City, it is important to consult with an attorney or seek out information from the appropriate government office to ensure that you understand the requirements and benefits of domestic partnerships, and to address any legal or financial issues that may arise in your situation.