How Does Marriage Affect Registered Domestic Partnerships?

Under California law, registered domestic partners have the same rights, protections, and benefits as married couples. Essentially, Domestic Partnerships are available to same-sex couples and opposite sex couples over the age of 62.

Very often, our office hears the question: “what happens if I am in a registered domestic partnership and then get married?”

(1) Does the marriage terminate the registered domestic partnership?

When you get married, your Domestic Partnership is still registered and is not terminated. You will be both married and in a registered domestic partnership. This also means that if you file for divorce, your marriage will terminate but you will still be in a domestic partnership if you do not file to dissolve it as well.

(2) Does the marriage make my Domestic Partnership Agreement invalid?

No, unless language in the Domestic Partnership Agreement states otherwise, the marriage license does not invalidate the Agreement. Functionally, it acts as a premarital agreement. Again, this is dependent on the language of the Agreement. In addition, the Agreement much meet the requirements for an enforceable prenuptial agreement and the grounds for making a contract enforceable.

Note: The validity of the terms of the agreement also depend on the year the Domestic Partnership Agreement was entered. California law regarding domestic partnerships property rights changed dramatically in the early 2000s. The timing is critical to the legal analysis and seeking counsel by an attorney is strongly recommended before making any assumptions regarding your rights and responsibilities.  [Disclaimer]

It is important to know your rights, responsibilities, and options regarding the intersection of domestic partnerships and marriage. Our family law team at Naimish & Lewis can advise you on this and other dissolution and divorce related matters. To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney at our firm, please contact us.