The California Family Code defines domestic partnership as two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.

A California domestic partnership in California applies to two different demographics:

  • Couples of the same sex
  • Seniors over the age of 62

In 1999, when the California legislature passed its statutes pertaining to domestic partnership, it resolved problems for both of these demographics.  The gay-lesbian element wanted married couples’ rights, and while not eligible for marriage under the existing law, they could declare a relationship that advanced their goal because it allowed hospital visitation with partners, shared medical insurance, and permitted medical expense tax deductions.  Senior citizens often did not wish to marry primarily because they wanted to keep assets separate, provide inheritances for their families, or preserve the idea of a lifelong marriage they had with their deceased spouse.  However, through domestic partnerships they could enjoy greater medical privileges in their new relationships.

However, in 2005, the legislature amended domestic partnership statutes, making duties and responsibilities more closely approximate marriage.

Who is eligible for a domestic partnership?

California Family Code Section 297 and 297.1 outlines these requirements for people who wish to register as domestic partners:

  • Neither person is married to someone else or neither is a member of another domestic partnership that is not dissolved, terminated, or nullified
  • No blood relationship exists that would prevent a marriage under CA marriage statutes
  • Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
  • If under the age of 18 the person has a court order of approval, parental consent, or guardian consent
  • Persons are of the same sex
  • One or both persons meet Social Security Old Age insurance benefits requirements or one or both persons are over age 62

Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership.