Although domestic partnership benefits are not the same as those you would be entitled to if you were legally married, entering into this type of arrangement does offer practical incentives.
As experienced Georgia family law attorneys, we know there are numerous reasons why you and your partner would not want to surrender your status as single individuals. In these cases, the benefits of a domestic partnership may be a solution while helping avoid the legal entanglements of marriage.
Domestic Partnership Legal Rights
Several cities and counties in Georgia -- the City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County -- have passed laws providing for domestic partnerships. A common requirement of these governmental entities is that one member of the partnership must be a city/county employee in order to qualify.
However, there can be other subtle differences in who qualifies in each of these municipalities. For example, the City of Atlanta offers domestic partnership as an option for city employees who are residents of the city and living together, provided they are over 18 and not currently in another domestic partnership agreement or legal marriage. Domestic partnership is also offered in Athens-Clarke County and in Fulton County at large, but Fulton only offers domestic partnerships to couples in same-sex relationships. Domestic partnership legal rights you may be entitled to include:
- The right for you or your partner to be listed on each other’s employer-sponsored health insurance program;
- The right to participate in each other’s employer-sponsored pension benefits, such as the opportunity to contribute to an IRA or 401k plan;
- The right to employer family leave benefits, in the event you have children, and bereavement leave, in the event something happens to you or your partner;
- The right to be considered as immediate family in the event your partner is hospitalized and to have a voice in health care decisions;
- The right to visit your partner if he or she is placed under arrest or incarcerated.
Unlike a legal marriage, a domestic partnership does not provide you with tax benefits and spousal inheritance rights, nor does it automatically establish paternity in the event there are children born of the relationship. Instead, as a party in a domestic partnership, you might have to bring legal action in order to gain rights to your children, such as a legitimation action sometimes brought by unwed fathers. If you are a father in a domestic partnership, it would makes sense to speak with an attorney about filing a consent legitimation action with the court so that you have custody rights to your children in the event domestic partnership ends.
However, at the dissolution of a domestic partnership, as it relates to the division of jointly-owned property, assets, and debts, you are not required to go through the same grueling process divorce demands.