Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

Michael J. Clonts, Esq.

undefinedBefore the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges extended the right for same sex couples to marry in every state, certain states tried quasi-marriage arrangements as alternate form of legal recognition. Two types of these legal constructs are civil unions and domestic partnerships. These arrangements apply to both same sex as well as opposite sex couples.

Civil unions and domestic partnerships provide legal recognition to the couples’ relationship and provide legal rights to the partners similar to those accorded to spouses in marriages. The benefits of a civil unions and domestic partnerships vary among states, but access to group health insurance, emergency care, property ownership and adoption are some of the benefits that can come from civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The most significant difference between marriage and civil unions and domestic partnerships is that only marriage (whether same sex or opposite sex marriage under the Obergefell case now) offers federal benefits and protections including:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Medicaid
  • Hospital visitation
  • Estate taxes
  • Retirement savings
  • Pensions
  • Family leave
  • Immigration rights

Although marriage is now legal for all couples, including same-sex couples, it is important to fully explore you and your partner’s options when it comes to making a commitment. Some couples prefer choices like a domestic partnership because when it comes to ending the relationship, they are burdened with much fewer legal issues that are often associated with divorce. It is always important to consider the pros and cons of marriage or any other type of legal union with your partner before embarking on the journey.

If you find yourself, a friend or a loved one in need of legal assistance and you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at 480.630.2464 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.


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