In 2008, Maryland made domestic partnerships available as an alternative to marriage. Domestic partnerships are available for couples who:

  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Are not related by blood or marriage to within 4 degrees of consanguinity (i.e. no marriage to first cousins or closer relatives)
  • Are both not married or in a domestic partnership with another individual
  • Agree to be in a relationship of mutual interdependence where each individual contributes to the maintenance and support of the other individual and the relationship, even if both individuals are not required to contribute equally to the relationship

Couples who wish to become domestic partners must provide two pieces of documentation evidence of their bond; examples may include proof of joint liability for a mortgage, lease, or loan, a joint checking account, a life insurance policy where a partner is the beneficiary, or a relationship or cohabitation contract.

What Are the Benefits of Domestic Partnership in Maryland?

Domestic partners in Maryland have several rights including the ability to visit each other in the hospital, share a room in a nursing home, make funeral and burial decisions on behalf of a deceased partner, and make certain property transfers to each other without incurring tax liability. These rights are limited compared to those of married couples. Also, unlike marriages, domestic partnerships may not be recognized in other U.S. states or countries.

How Does the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Affect Domestic Partnerships?

Same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland after voters approved it on November 6, 2012. The law was enacted later that month. Couples in domestic partnerships have the option to marry or to remain domestic partners.  

Do I Need an Attorney?

Choosing whether to register as domestic partners or to marry is a complex process that will affect your future rights and responsibilities. If you have questions about this decision, please contact a Maryland family attorney now.