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Domestic Partnerships in Minnesota

Domestic Partnerships in Minnesota

If you and your partner have lived together in Minnesota and portrayed yourself as though you are married, you may think you have entered into a domestic partnership or a civil union. Most states no longer recognize this type of domestic arrangement but some still do. 

At Heritage Law Office, our family law attorney in Minnesota wants to make sure you understand whether or not a domestic partnership arrangement applies in your situation. These arrangements come with benefits and responsibilities, so you don't want to assume anything. Contact us through our online form or call us at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation and learn more. 

Domestic Partnerships in Minnesota

In its broadest sense, a domestic partnership is formed when two people, who are not married and are not related to one another, live together and engage in a committed, romantic relationship. While it is often assumed that these couples must be in a same-sex relationship, each state has its own more specific rules as to what constitutes a domestic partnership, and many do recognize opposite-sex couples.

Requirements to be considered a domestic partnership vary by jurisdiction. In most cases, the legal arrangement is no longer relevant. If it does apply, however, to establish a domestic partnership, couples typically register with either their employer, state, or local government. There is usually an application that must be filed and a filing fee. 

Domestic partnerships are quite similar to civil unions, it's just a different name to describe similar situations except for two key differences. Civil unions have historically involved more shared responsibilities than what has been attributed to domestic partnerships, and domestic partnerships often carry limited rights as those traditionally provided for in civil unions. 

Benefits of a Domestic Partnership in Minnesota

There are benefits to being in a domestic partnership. In many jurisdictions, these partnerships offer some, if not all, the same benefits of a traditional marriage, including:

  • Insurance Benefits: Many people enter into domestic partnerships due to the ability it affords one partner to extend the healthcare benefits they receive from their employer to the other partner. This includes medical, vision, and dental benefits. Life insurance may be included as well. 
  • Visitation Rights: In case one partner is incarcerated or hospitalized, a domestic partnership typically allows the other partner the right to visit them. 
  • Employer Benefits: Domestic partners are often capable of having additional benefits from their employer, including adoption benefits, and sick and bereavement leave.

These benefits are the driving force behind most people filing for domestic partnership status.

Challenges to a Domestic Partnership in Minnesota

While there are benefits to being in a domestic partnership, there are also some challenges in many jurisdictions, including:

  • Tax Issues: Domestic partners are not allowed to file taxes jointly. Also, health insurance benefits extended by one partner's employer to the other partner may be considered taxable income. 
  • Inheritance Matters: If one partner dies intestate, the other partner may not automatically inherit from them. If there is a Will, and they inherit through that, they may have to pay an inheritance tax.
  • Social Security: A domestic partnership does not provide one partner the ability to receive the other partner's Social Security benefits after death.

Remember, challenges related to domestic partnerships vary significantly by jurisdiction.

Termination of a Domestic Partnership in Minnesota

Ending a domestic partnership varies by jurisdiction. It may involve simply filing a document that formally ends the partnership, or it may be more complicated and involve proceedings similar to those in a divorce.

In some jurisdictions, you might need to formally divide assets and seek spousal maintenance and/or child support, as applicable.

Speaking with our family law lawyer can help you understand if you were in a domestic partnership in the first place, and if so, what you need to do to terminate it.

Contact a Domestic Partnership Lawyer in Minnesota Today

As the laws surrounding domestic partnerships vary widely by jurisdiction, it is definitely in your best interest to speak with an attorney that understands how the laws in your area work. If you do not retain an attorney and try to figure out how domestic relationships in your locale are defined, formed, and ended, it is likely you will miss something that is important to your individual circumstances.

Contact Heritage Law Office through our online form or call us at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a Domestic Partnership?

A domestic partnership is a legally recognized arrangement between two individuals who live together and share a life together but aren't married. This arrangement can offer various benefits such as shared health insurance, but it's essential to note that the specific advantages and legal standings vary from one jurisdiction to another.

2. How Does a Domestic Partnership Differ from a Civil Union?

While both arrangements offer an alternative to marriage, they are not the same. A civil union is usually a more formalized legal status that often provides more extensive benefits and responsibilities. In contrast, domestic partnerships generally offer fewer rights and are considered less formal. The terminology and specific rights can differ depending on the state or jurisdiction.

3. What Are the Typical Benefits of a Domestic Partnership?

The benefits of a domestic partnership can include the ability to share health, dental, and vision insurance, visitation rights in case of hospitalization or incarceration, and certain employer benefits like adoption assistance. However, these benefits are contingent on the laws of the specific jurisdiction where the partnership is registered.

4. Are There Any Tax Implications for Domestic Partnerships?

Yes, tax considerations can be quite different for domestic partners compared to married couples. For instance, domestic partners can't file joint tax returns, and health benefits extended from one partner to another may be considered taxable income. It's crucial to consult a tax advisor familiar with domestic partnership regulations in your jurisdiction.

5. How Do You Terminate a Domestic Partnership?

Terminating a domestic partnership often requires filing a formal document to end the partnership officially. In some jurisdictions, you may need to divide assets or even go through proceedings that resemble a divorce, including spousal support and child custody arrangements. Legal requirements can vary significantly by jurisdiction, so it's advised to consult an experienced attorney.

If you have further questions or need legal assistance, feel free to contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500 to learn more.

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