If you are a same-sex couple or one partner is 62 or older, you may be eligible for a domestic partnership in Washington State. A domestic partnership provides legal recognition of your relationship and grants you many of the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. In this article, we will guide you through the process of filing for a domestic partnership in Washington State.
Eligibility Requirements for a Domestic Partnership in Washington State
To qualify for a domestic partnership in Washington State, you must meet the following requirements:
Each partner is a member of the same sex, or one of the partners is 62 or older
The partners live in the same residence
Each partner is 18 years or older
Neither partner is in another marriage or domestic partnership
Each partner is able to consent to being in the domestic partnership
The partners are not related to each other any nearer than second cousins
Before applying for a domestic partnership, it's recommended that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in LGBT family law. This is especially important if you were previously married, have children, or have significant assets or business interests. An experienced lawyer can help you understand how a registered domestic partnership will affect you.
How to Apply for a Domestic Partnership in Washington State
To apply for a domestic partnership in Washington State, follow these steps:
Fill out the Washington State Domestic Partnership Declaration form with your partner.
Have the form notarized.
Submit the form and the $50 filing fee (or $100 for expedited service) to the Office of the Washington Secretary of State, Corporations Division. You can submit your application by mail or in person.
Once your application is approved, the state will provide you and your partner with two certificates and two wallet-size cards verifying your domestic partnership.
Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage in Washington State
Domestic partners registered with the state of Washington have the same state rights as their opposite-sex married counterparts. However, due to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples may not have all of the same federal rights as married couples. For example, registered domestic partners cannot file joint federal tax returns and may not qualify for certain health care benefits.
Benefits of Domestic Partnership in Washington State
If you are eligible for a domestic partnership in Washington State, you and your partner can enjoy many of the same benefits as married couples, including:
The right to visit your partner in the hospital and make health care decisions in the event of your partner's incapacity.
The right to take care of a seriously sick or injured partner under the Washington State Family Leave Act (FLA).
The right to inherit assets, receive workers compensation benefits, and make funeral arrangements in the event of your partner's death.
The right to be buried together, if desired.
The right to accumulate community property during the domestic partnership and to the division of that property in the event you end your partnership.
The right for both partners to accumulate joint debts and for those debts to be divided in the event you end your domestic partnership.
Cost of Filing for a Domestic Partnership in Washington State
Filing for a domestic partnership in Washington State costs $50.00. If you would like expedited service, you will have to pay an additional $100.00.
If you are considering filing for a domestic partnership in Washington State, it's important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in LGBT family law. They can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and ensure that the process goes smoothly.