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Domestic Partnership Agreement

All states
4.5 (42 reviews)
Updated Nov 24, 2023
~ 6 pages
A domestic partnership agreement is a legal document that is enforceable under law and serves to protect the rights of both partners. This agreement can be used by couples living together but who have not married yet. Create your domestic partnership agreement template on Lawrina and download a customized PDF document in a moment.
Paper titled "Domestic Partnership Agreement"; pen; woman and man shaking hands; armchair, table, plant, lamp

Domestic partnership agreements are contracts that are enforceable under law and serve to protect the rights of both partners. This agreement can be used by couples living together but have not yet tied the knot. It establishes clear expectations for how they will share financial and domestic obligations. It doesn't matter what kind of domestic partnership you and your partner have; this agreement can help you out.

Our partner agreement sample gives you easy-to-follow instructions. In the following sections, we'll look at a domestic partnership agreement. We’ll answer some questions about who can enter into one, why it's necessary, and how to use the domestic partnership agreement template efficiently.

What Is a Domestic Partnership Agreement?

A domestic partnership agreement is a legal contract between two people. This is a great agreement that clearly defines shared living arrangements. This domestic partnership agreement template lays out the responsibilities and obligations of both parties, just like a prenuptial agreement does for married couples. 

Remember that there is a comparable but less restrictive arrangement called a cohabitation arrangement for unmarried couples. Limitations on things like child custody and medical decision-making are possible with this arrangement, so choose a contract that works best for you.

The agreement is important for unmarried couples who live together and wish to define their financial, property, and other responsibilities. Even though the legal situation is somewhat improved now that same-sex marriages are permitted, the domestic partner agreement still has a great deal of value and can help you in a variety of situations, as it goes beyond financial and property (dis)agreements.

Parties of the Domestic Partnership Agreement

  • Primary Partners — The parties entering the domestic partnership agreement. Because they are directly involved, these parties are subject to the terms and conditions specified in the partnership agreement. The majority of the time, the primary partners share a residence, financial responsibilities, and other aspects of their lives.

  • Witnesses — Individuals who are not partners but are essential to the contract’s validity. Their job is to make sure the two main parties aren't being forced into signing the contract. It strengthens the document's credibility and raises the odds that it will be upheld in court. It is highly recommended that you consult a local attorney, specifically with someone who has experience in the specific witness requirements in your jurisdiction before creating a domestic partnership document.

Key Terms

  • Property Division — This section details how assets and debts will be shared if the partnership ends.

  • Financial Obligations — It specifies how financial obligations, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries, will be divided.

  • Medical and Health Care — This section addresses topics such as health insurance coverage and medical decision-making. This is also a good way to include partners in kin and family-only visits in hospitals.

  • Dispute Resolution — Outlines the procedures for resolving conflicts and disagreements.

  • Termination — The conditions and procedures for terminating the domestic partnership are outlined here.

Who Can Enter a Domestic Partnership?

Entering a domestic partnership agreement is essential for couples who are not married. But, who can actually form this partnership? Get familiar with the local laws. This way, you can understand the different regulations that apply to your legal domestic partnership agreement. However, there are a few general rules to follow:

  1. Unmarried Couples — Domestic partnerships are primarily intended for unmarried couples who want to live together and share their lives but don’t want to marry. This includes both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. While the law might have improved over the years, the implementation of the domestic partnership was not equal, as shown in this report of an official New York City Council study.

  2. Age Requirements — To enter a domestic partnership, both parties must be of legal consent age. This age restriction varies by jurisdiction.

  3. Mental Capacity — Both spouses must be mentally capable of understanding the consequences of a domestic partnership agreement. 

  4. Consent — To join a domestic partnership, both parties must consent voluntarily and without pressure. Consent is essential for any legal transaction, including domestic partnership arrangements.

  5. Legal Status — Partners should not be legally wedded to another person. This can be a disqualifying criterion in some jurisdictions for a domestic partnership.

  6. Prohibited Relationships — Certain familial members, such as siblings or close blood relatives, may be prohibited by law from entering into a domestic partnership.

There are different rules for domestic partnerships based on where you live. Some places give domestic partners a lot of formal rights, but others give them very few or none at all. Talking to a local lawyer before becoming domestic partners is a good idea to make sure you qualify and understand what it means for you.

Why Is a Domestic Partnership Important?

1. Defining Expectations and Duties

A domestic partnership agreement sample defines in detail each partner's expectations and duties. This can help to avoid misunderstandings and disagreements in the future. Considering it’s a flexible agreement, you and your partner can add all the details relevant to your relationship.

2. Legal Protection

If there is no written agreement, domestic partners may have trouble obtaining certain legal rights and protections. A domestic partnership agreement can help in the recognition of these rights.

3. Asset Safeguarding

In case your partner and you split up, a well-drafted domestic partnership agreement form can protect your assets and help with a fair sharing of property and responsibilities.

Benefits of Domestic Partnerships

Domestic partnership agreements have become quite popular for unmarried couples. Here are a few benefits you should consider before legalizing your relationship and signing the papers:

  • Legality — Living together is not enough in most states, so couples often sign a domestic partnership agreement pdf to make the relationship legal. The legality offered with this agreement is often the same as for married couples. So, even without a formal marriage, you can be in a legally secure and binding relationship.

  • Financial Security — If living together is not enough, and you want more financial security, consider the agreement. This is one of the best ways to have joint health insurance coverage and even tax reductions. 

  • Property & Asset Protection — Protecting each partner's property and outlining how debts and assets would be divided in the case of separation or passing away are two of the most important aspects of a domestic partnership agreement. This easy-to-understand contract will give you both peace of mind.

  • Additional Benefits — As domestic partners, you are often eligible for employer-provided benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and family leave, which can improve your overall quality of life. 

  • Medical Decisions — In case of a medical emergency, the law can be quite restrictive when it comes to important decisions. This is why people with an agreement have more legal authority to make decisions about their partner’s care.

  • Parenting — People who form a domestic partnership agreement have higher chances of having a say in the children’s upbringing. So, if one or both partners have children together or separately, it’s a good idea to include a clause in the agreement to settle the parenting rights.

  • End-of-Life Care — Just like domestic partners can make decisions about medical procedures, they can also be there for their significant others until the end. This means they are in charge of all the important decisions, and they can be sure all the final wishes are fulfilled.

  • Conflict Resolution — One of the best things about domestic partnership agreements is that you can avoid expensive and lengthy court fights. An agreement should include conflict resolution methods to help you and your partner overcome issues with ease.

What To Include in the Domestic Partnership Form

A well-written domestic partnership agreement form includes:

  1. Personal Information — Full names and contact details of the parties

  2. Date — The effective date of the agreement

  3. Responsibilities and Rights — Each partner’s obligations in detail

  4. Property and Debt — Detailed outline of property and debt division

  5. Termination Clause — Terms under which the domestic partnership agreement form can be terminated

How To Create a Domestic Partnership Agreement

Using the provided domestic partnership agreement template, it’s easy to create a customizable document that best suits your partnership.

1. Coordinate With the Counterpart

Your partner and you should participate in the drafting of the domestic partnership agreement to ensure it reflects your expectations.

2. Negotiate Essential Terms of the Contract

Partners in a domestic partnership agreement should negotiate all the terms in good faith, address any concerns, and reach agreeable solutions. Using our domestic partnership agreement template will make this process easier.

3. Fill In All the Necessary Information

The domestic partnership agreement should be detailed and well-written. To minimize misunderstanding, it is critical to disclose every relevant fact.

When To Use a Domestic Partnership Agreement

A domestic partnership agreement is a great choice for unmarried couples who want to establish legal guidelines. Use it when splitting funds, cohabiting in a home, beginning a joint business endeavor, or splitting child custody. In these cases, the agreement clarifies rights and obligations. 

Avoid it, though, if your commitment is questionable or your jurisdiction does not recognize domestic partnerships. Always get legal advice to ensure that the agreement is in accordance with local laws and your individual needs.

Common Use Cases

  • Shared Finances — The domestic partnership agreement is an ideal option when partners share financial resources;

  • Property Ownership — In case one of the partners has property and the other one is moving in; and

  • Business Partnerships — Use the domestic partnership agreement when you and your partner run a business together.

When Not to Use a Domestic Partnership Agreement

In some cases, the couples should reconsider signing a domestic partnership agreement. This could happen if:

  • You want to avoid commitment — This agreement is legally binding and created for partners who are ready and willing to commit to the relationship;
  • Your jurisdiction doesn’t recognize it — Some areas might not recognize the legality of this agreement, so it’s a good idea to consult with a legal professional before making any arrangements.

Legal Disclaimer

Please note that Lawrina does not provide any legal services. The information on Lawrina’s Site and its downloadable content, including legal articles and templates, shall not be considered legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, and up-to-date. If you require legal advice on your issue, we recommend you contact a qualified attorney licensed in your state. You personally assume full responsibility for any consequences, damages, and costs associated with your use of any content of Lawrina Services available on Lawrina’s Site.

By using Lawrina’s Site you agree with mentioned above and give your irrevocable consent to comply with and to be bound by the provisions of Lawrina Service terms. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a domestic partnership agreement be used to establish inheritance rights?

Yes, a domestic partnership agreement can include provisions regarding inheritance, ensuring that a deceased partner's assets are transferred to the surviving partner.

Do I need to hire a lawyer to draft a domestic partnership agreement?

While it’s not necessary to hire a lawyer when drafting a domestic partnership agreement, it’s highly recommended. Your local lawyer can provide legal counseling, check if the agreement is enforceable, and resolve any other issues you might have. So, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional or use the provided domestic partnership agreement template to get started right away.

If I move to another state, is my domestic partnership agreement still valid?

Considering the rules and regulations on domestic partnership agreements are very different from state to state, it’s important to know your legal status. When you and your partner need to move, it’s a good idea to review your domestic partnership agreement. Make all the changes required that will make your agreement legal in the new state or country. This way, you can be sure all the rights and duties you agreed on remain the same.

If I die or become incapacitated, what happens to my partner if I don’t have a domestic partnership agreement?

There are certain rights that are only reserved for married couples. This might include receiving inheritance, making medical choices, and gaining other rights. Without a domestic partnership agreement, your partner can face difficulties when trying to enforce their rights. To protect your domestic partner's interests, it's always a good idea to draft a domestic partnership agreement or consult with a professional with experience in family law.