Domestic Partnership
2024 Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage in California- What Are the Differences?

2024 Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage in California- What Are the Differences?

April 04, 2023

Making the decision to commit your life to someone is an exciting and important decision. You are choosing to blend your life with another person and share all the responsibilities of your life together. When you make this type of decision, you are not under any obligation to make it legally binding, but that will offer several benefits. There are several ways that the state of California will legally recognize your relationship. Marriage and domestic partnerships are two of the most common options. An experienced Southern California Domestic Partnership Lawyer can help you determine which course is right for you and your partner.

Marriage in California

Entering into a marriage relationship is the method of gaining legal recognition that is most familiar to many people. The process of getting married in California is fairly simple. There are three primary requirements that must be met.

  1. Both Parties Must Be of Age: This means that both potential spouses must be at least 18 years old. If one partner is 16 or 17, they will be allowed to get married if they have parental consent.
  2. Both Parties Must Consent to the Marriage: This means that both spouses must agree to enter into a marriage relationship. It cannot be forced on either member of the marriage.
  3. Both Parties Must Have Capacity: This means that both spouses must have the mental ability to understand what a marriage relationship entails and agree to be a part of the relationship.

If all these requirements are met, then a couple can apply for and complete their marriage. This type of relationship comes with many benefits and privileges. Some of the most significant benefits of a legally recognized marriage are:

  • Inheriting your spouse’s estate
  • Joint tax benefits
  • The division of assets in the event of a divorce
  • Shared insurance with a spouse
  • Rights to visitation if your spouse is in the hospital
  • The ability to transfer assets between spouses without paying taxes

There are many other benefits that a married couple may share in addition to these. A couple that wants to have a legally recognized relationship may choose to get married. Other couples may be opposed to marriage for one reason or another. In these cases, a registered domestic partnership may be the right option.

Domestic Partnerships in California

For many years, domestic partnerships were a way for same-sex couples to get many of the benefits of marriage. This was the case before it was legal for them to be married. Since same-sex marriage has been legalized, domestic partnerships have become an alternative to marriage that is still legally recognized for many couples.

Similar to a marriage, there are several requirements that must be met for a domestic partnership to be registered. The five requirements are:

  1. The partnership must consist of two adults who are committed to sharing an intimate life together.
  2. Both partners must be over the age of 18 or have parental consent.
  3. Neither partner can be married to someone else when the domestic partnership is registered.
  4. The partners cannot be related to one another by blood.
  5. Both partners must have the mental capacity to consent to the relationship.

A couple who meets all these requirements may choose to enter a registered domestic partnership rather than a marriage. This type of legally recognized relationship offers many of the same rights and benefits as marriage. However, it is not recognized at the federal level. Both domestic partnerships and marriage are solid options for couples. They allow them to enter a legally recognized relationship and enjoy various benefits and privileges. An experienced domestic partnership attorney can help you determine which course is right for you and your partner.


Q: What Is One Difference Between Domestic Partnerships and Marriage4?

A: In many ways, domestic partnerships and marriage are very similar. They both offer certain rights to partners that they could not exercise otherwise, such as hospital visitation and shared healthcare. There are a few key differences, though. One major difference is that married couples only need to provide a certificate of marriage. Conversely, couples registering a domestic partnership must often share ample evidence to prove that they are in a committed relationship. This may include documentation of shared bank accounts, financial obligations, and property.

Q: What Are the Benefits of Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage?

A: Marriage is not the right choice for some people, for various reasons. They may be opposed to the institution of marriage but still want to share certain benefits with their partner. One of the benefits of a domestic partnership is having an alternative to marriage that still legally binds you to your partner. Domestic partnerships also help couples avoid a higher tax bracket. Because they do not have the marriage tax penalty, it saves them money when filing taxes.

Q: What Are the Disadvantages of a Domestic Partnership?

A: Domestic partnerships are a great option for many couples. However, there are certain rights and privileges that you cannot get outside of a legal marriage. When you register a domestic partnership rather than getting married, you will miss out on benefits such as:

  • Inheriting your spouse’s estate
  • The ability to sponsor your spouse if they are immigrating
  • Receiving benefits such as social security or a pension through your spouse
  • The option to transfer assets from one spouse to the other tax-free

Q: What Are the Rules for Domestic Partners in California?

A: There are several requirements that a couple must meet before they can register a domestic partnership in California:

  • They must be two adults who are committed to sharing an intimate life together.
  • They cannot be married to another person.
  • They must be 18 years old or have parental consent.
  • They must be mentally capable of consenting to the partnership.
  • They can have no blood relation to each other.

If all these requirements are met, then their domestic partnership can be registered.

Contact the Edgar & Dow

If you want to be legally bound to your partner, marriage and domestic partnerships both offer many benefits. It is important to take the time to understand the details of each relationship. This can help you determine which one is the right fit for you and your partner. An accomplished Southern California domestic partnership attorney can help you navigate the process. Trust the team at the Edgar & Dow if you are ready to commit to your partner.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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