Domestic partnerships and civil unions are both legally recognized interpersonal relationships. Here are some examples about how benefits can vary from state to state, and even within a state at the municipality level: Civil unions are very similar to domestic partnerships. When it comes to older persons, the U.S. Social Security Administration recognizes some domestic partnerships and civil unions to determine whether the employee’s partner is entitled to Social Security and Medicare benefits. More than 100 attorneys, over 30 practice areas, and a philosophy of putting the law to work for our clients is the basis from which we build and maintain our practice. The California Family Code is one of the strictest laws in the country. [iii] Generally speaking, many people believe that domestic partnerships are similar to marriages, but many people are unsure of what those similarities are (and what the differences are). To avoid the appearance of bias, an employer that wants to request documentation of domestic partnerships and civil unions should also request documentation of marriages. Some of the benefits available to couples in a civil union include benefits relating to title, tenure, wrongful death, loss of consortium, adoption, group health insurance, emergency care, property ownership, and tort actions under contracts.[xvi]. Disclaimer. [vi] States vary on how this process should take place. Those states include, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.[xiv]. In New Jersey, for example, a civil union creates more shared responsibility for … Those benefits can include the ability to join a family health insurance plan and visit your partner in the hospital[xvii]. Yet health benefits for such parties can cost a company. The Pandemic Has Hit the Family Courts - What Should I Do Now? You deserve to work with a law firm that offers integrity, reliability and a personal commitment to finding the right solutions for the challenges and opportunities you face every day. Most employers that provided such coverage will now only provide coverage if the employee and his or her partner are married. Domestic partnerships are entitled to some, but not all, of the legal benefits that married couples receive. Accounts like Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are governed by the Internal Revenue Code. A civil union partner is defined for pension and SHBP/SEHBP eligibility as a person of the same sex to whom the eligible employee or retiree has entered into a civil union as recognized under Chapter 103. In California’s opposite-sex domestic partnership, at least one person must be over age 62 and eligible for Social Security old-age benefits. Civil unions were first legalized in 1999 in the state of Vermont. Differences between a civil union and a domestic partnership will vary by state law. They are also known as registered partnerships or civil partnerships. Many states, like California, have mini-COBRA laws that require non-employees in registered domestic partnerships or civil unions be covered. When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), most states eliminated domestic partnerships and civil unions. (See: Employers, Domestic Partnerships, and the IRS). Vermont was the first state to create civil unions in 2000 to provide legal protections to gays and lesbians in relationships in that state because same-sex marriage was not an option. Founded in 1933, Stark & Stark has been successful in developing innovative solutions to meet our client’s needs. Civil unions provide legal recognition to the couples’ relationship and provide legal rights to the partners similar to those accorded to spouses in marriages. Coverage for such a party extends to the partner’s children. [iv] Even though same-sex marriage is legally recognized in all fifty states, domestic partnership is still an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who live together and share a common domestic life. An employer must include imputed income in a W-2 form. Following the enactment of civil unions in New Jersey, the Domestic Partnership Act was revised such that these partnerships only became available to persons age 62 or older. The Divorce has been Finalized. Federal law does not recognize domestic partnerships or civil unions. That is the only benefit that stems from the determination. [i] See What is a Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/domestic-partnerships/what-is-a-domestic-partnership.html, [iii] See Same Sex Marriages, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/same-sex-marriage-civil-unions-and-domestic-partnerships.html, [vi] See What is a Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/domestic-partnerships/what-is-a-domestic-partnership.html, [xiii] See Same Sex Marriages, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/same-sex-marriage-civil-unions-and-domestic-partnerships.html, [xiv] See Same Sex Marriages, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/marriage/same-sex-marriage-civil-unions-and-domestic-partnerships.html, [xvii] See What is a Domestic Partnership FindLaw (Accessed January 19, 2017) http://family.findlaw.com/domestic-partnerships/what-is-a-domestic-partnership.html, © 2017-2020 AZ Family Law Team, PLLC