The District of Columbia began to provide domestic partnerships for all couples in 2002. Heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, and even blood relatives can register as domestic partners.
In order to be able to register in Washington, D.C., the partners must:
- Be in a committed relationship and share a residence
- Be at least 18 and competent to enter into a legal contract
- Each be the sole domestic partner of the other
- Be unmarried and not registered as a domestic partner to anyone else
How Does the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Affect Partnerships?
Same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, D.C. in 2009, and marriages began in 2010. In 2015, same-sex marriage became legal in the United States. This means that all D.C. couples now have a choice between a marriage and a domestic partnership.
What Rights Do Domestic Partners Enjoy in Washington, D.C.?
Domestic partners in D.C. enjoy many of the same rights that married couples enjoy. These include inheritance rights, equitable division of property if the partnership dissolves, support of a former partner if appropriate, and the right to enter into a premarital agreement. However, people in a domestic partnership do not enjoy all of the rights and responsibilities of a married couple. Entering into a domestic partnership may limit federal benefits and the partnership may not be recognized in all other states or countries.
Do I Need an Attorney?
There are differences between marriage and domestic partnership in Washington, D.C. A Washington, D.C. attorney will be able to explain both to you if you are confused about the differences. They will also help you if you need assistance in obtaining or dissolving either a domestic partnership or a marriage.