A Domestic Partnership Agreement, also commonly called a Joint Property Agreement or a Living Together Agreement, is a document that explains the contractual legal rights and responsibilities of each partner when a couple decides to form a long-term committed relationship and own property together.
A Domestic Partnership Agreement is an important legal document for any unmarried relationship. Now that same-sex relationships are recognized by family law, the Domestic Partnership Agreement would be for both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
In the event of potential disputes, misunderstandings or death, a Domestic Partnership Agreement can help clarify ownership of property, provide guidance for dividing property in the event of a separation, and specify a dispute resolution mechanism such as mediation or arbitration prior to the commencement of litigation.
Child custody cases involving domestic partners are often complex. If the child is the offspring of an unmarried heterosexual couple, the paternity of the child may be in question, requiring legitimation (legal acknowledgement). However, if the domestic partners are a non-traditional couple, establishing parental rights may be even more difficult. A domestic partnership agreement that outlines the terms of custody and visitation can help, but child custody matters between domestic partners tend to be more complex than between divorcing couples simply because the law is not as clear.
It is also recommended that unmarried and same sex couples possess the following documents:
Revocable Living Trust
- A Living Trust distributes property much the same way a Will does, but it accomplishes the distribution without probate court supervision or interference. It tends to be a less expensive and less time-consuming private process. Many Living Trusts also incorporate credit shelter provisions to maximize tax savings for your heirs.
Last Will and Testament
- A Will is the most common document used for giving away possessions after death. This writing instructs a probate court on distributing your assets after all of your bills are paid. It can also include legally binding instructions that designate the desired type of funeral, people you want to administer your estate, or those you want to take custody of minor children. Consult a Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor attorney for complete details.
Advance Directive for Healthcare (formerly known as a Living Will)
- As an unmarried person, it is extremely important for you to have a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care naming a partner or a friend as your agent. If you don’t, hospitals and courts will look to your closest biological family member to make health care decisions for you. This means your partner or friend will have no legal right to make such decisions, or in some cases, to even visit you in the hospital.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
- You need to create a durable power of attorney for finances naming your partner or a friend as agent. Without this document and a Trust in place, no one will be able to manage your finances unless a guardianship proceeding is filed in court, and your closest biological family members will have priority of appointment.
Power of Attorney for Minor Children
- A power of attorney for minor children allows the biological or adoptive parent to give authority to the non-biological or non-adoptive parent to be involved in educational and medical decisions for the child.
Speak With a Caring Domestic Partnership Attorney
Understand your options with an initial consultation. Please call Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor today at (678) 971-3413 or fill out our simple contact form to set up an appointment or to get additional information. Our office hours are from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with evening appointments available by request. We accept all major credit cards.
We act as advocates for LGBT families throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area with any form of healthcare, living will, power of attorney, or other legal issue that may hinder your life.