Beginning January 1, 2020 California’s Registered Domestic Partnership law allows a whole new cohort of people to register with the Secretary of State.
Senate Bill 30 states that effective January 1, 2020 all couples regardless of age or sexual orientation that are eligible to be married may register with the California Secretary of State as domestic partners.
What part of the law has changed?
The new law, signed July 30, 2019 by Gavin Newsom as SB30, eliminates the requirement that both parties be either members of the same sex and the age requirement of 62 for one or both partners. Additionally, the $23 fee used to fund the development and support of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender curriculum for training workshops on domestic violence and for the support of a grant program to promote healthy nonviolent relationships in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The new bill expands the exemption to all partnerships when one or both are age 62 or older.
Who can register as Domestic Partners?
Registration is open to couples who meet the requirements of California Family Code Section 297, which lists the following requirements:
(1) Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of another domestic partnership with someone else that has not been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
(2) The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in this state.
(3) Both persons are at least 18 years of age, except as provided in Section 297.1.
(4) Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership.
Previously the requirements included language limiting domestic partners to same sex couples and partnerships in which at least one person was over age 62.
How does a Registered Domestic Partnership differ from a Marriage?
Registered Domestic Partnerships are recognized by the State of California, and in California they confer the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. However, the federal government does not recognize registered domestic partnerships the same. For example, when filing tax returns in California you can file as Registered Domestic Partners but on your Federal Tax Return you cannot file jointly as a married couple. There are also restrictions on claiming your partner as a dependent on your tax returns.
How do we register as Domestic Partners?
To register you must file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State. You can also register under a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership which allows only you and your partner to access your registration. Once you have filled out the form you must have your signatures notarized. You can mail your registration to the Sacramento office or walk it in to either the Sacramento office or the Los Angeles office for the Secretary of State. Previously forms were made available at county clerk’s offices but will now only be available through the Secretary of State.
How do we terminate our Registered Domestic Partnership?
Termination of a Registered Domestic Partnership can happen in different ways. If you meet the requirements of California Family Code Section 299(a) you can file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership form with the Secretary of State. If your domestic partnership is more complicated, such as when you share children or real property, you can file for dissolution within California Family Court. For some couples who are both married and domestic partners you can dissolve both your marriage and your partnership via the same instrument in California Family Court.