Increasingly, unmarried couples, especially same-sex unmarried couples, have becoming a family law issue of growing importance.
Another Florida county may soon join 18 other cities and counties, including Broward county, in creating a domestic partner registry which would mean change for some unmarried couples in the county. This family law change would allow both homosexual and heterosexual couples to enjoy a recognized relationship. Although the couples’ long-term relationships would be recognized, they would not enjoy the around 1,400 rights granted to married heterosexual couples by the state and federal government. They would, however, enjoy some rights and privileges which would include health care and end-of-life decision making, among a few others. A local gay woman commented that what is really needed is a marriage act but that this would be a step in the right direction. In 2008, Florida voters defined marriage as between a man and a woman only. The proposed registry would be supported by the $50 fee couples would pay to register.
A domestic partnership is a legally-recognized relationship that provides some benefits to unmarried couples, including same-sex and heterosexual couples. Since the 1980s domestic partnership and the status of unmarried, especially same-sex, couples has been an important family law and legal issue. Many states today offer unmarried couples the opportunity to register as domestic partners. The benefits available to domestic partners are similar to those available to married couples, however, there are differences.
The benefits available to domestic partners vary between states. Often, however, they address health and life insurance, death benefits, parental rights, work leave (including sick and family) and tax issues. Broward County, among other counties and cities in Florida, offers benefits to domestic partners through domestic partner registries. Benefits include, health care and end-of-life decision making, as well as jail visitation rights.
Domestic partnerships, and the family law issues surrounding such couples, have been a family legal issue for some time now. It is important for those impacted by domestic partnership law to understand the benefits available to them.
Source: Tallahassee.com, “Hearing set for Leon County domestic-partner registry,” Jeff Burlew, Mar. 4, 2013