IMPORTANT: This information is instructional only. It is not legal advice. For information relevant to your domestic partnership and/or family-related issues, you should consult with a private attorney.

1. Will the June 26, 2015, United States Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (questions whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and, whether a state is required to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state) affect my registered domestic partnership?

The Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges did not invalidate or change any of the California Family Code sections related to registered domestic partners. Domestic partnership registrations are different from marriage licenses. The California Secretary of State's office will continue to process Declarations of Domestic Partnership, Notices of Termination of Domestic Partnership and other related filings as permitted by state law. County governments process marriage licenses. If you have questions about how the Supreme Court's decision may apply to your circumstances, please consult with a private attorney.

2. Can a person under 18 register a domestic partnership with the State of California?

Yes. A person under 18 who otherwise meets the requirements for a domestic partnership, other than the requirement of being at least 18, may establish a domestic partnership if the person under 18 has obtained written consent of the parents or guardian of the underage person, and has obtained a court order granting permission to the underage person to establish a domestic partnership. A certified copy of the order must be filed with the California Secretary of State with the Declaration of Domestic Partnership.

3. How do I register a domestic partnership with the State of California?

If you and your partner are over 18, or one or both partners are under 18 and have obtained a court order granting permission to establish a domestic partnership, and meet the requirements of California Family Code section 297, you may register a domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State. You may register by completing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1, having both partners' signatures notarized, and submitting the form with the appropriate fee to the California Secretary of State.

4. How do I register a confidential domestic partnership with the State of California?

If you and your partner have been living together as domestic partners and are over 18, or one or both partners are under 18 and have obtained a court order granting permission to establish a domestic partnership, and meet the requirements of California Family Code section 297, you may register a confidential domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State. You may register by completing a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A, having both partners' signatures notarized, and submitting the form with the appropriate fee to the California Secretary of State.

5. Will I receive a copy of my domestic partnership paperwork after it is filed?

One plain copy of the filed Declaration of Domestic Partnership and a Certificate of Registration of Domestic Partnership will be provided to the partners once the Declaration is filed with our office. In addition, you will receive a brochure entitled "Your Future Together" published by the State Department of Public Health. This brochure contains information for distribution to applicants who qualify as domestic partners.

It is common for other entities (e.g., California DMV, Social Security Administration, medical insurance provider) to request proof of a domestic partnership once filed. California Family law provides that a certified copy of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership is acceptable as proof the Declaration is filed with the Secretary of State's office. Certified copies of the filed Declaration are available for an additional fee.  

6. Who can order a copy of a Confidential Domestic Partnership?

Unlike a Declaration of Domestic Partnership, a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership is a permanent record that is not open to the public. Only the registered domestic partners may obtain a copy of their confidential domestic partnership filing by completing a Confidential Domestic Partnership Records Order Form. Anyone other than the domestic partners wanting a copy of a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership must attach a certified copy of a court order granting permission to the California Secretary of State's office to release the Confidential Domestic Partnership record.

7. Do we have to re-register every time the laws affecting domestic partnerships change?

Absent a specific statute requiring domestic partnerships to re-register, a registered domestic partnership would not be required to re-register.

8. My partner and I are registered as domestic partners with the city in which we reside. Do we have the same rights as partners registered with the State?

No. In order to have the rights provided by State law to registered domestic partnerships, you must be registered with California's statewide registry. The Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1 and the Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A are available online through our website. After completing either declaration online, the form can be printed, signed and after having both partners' signatures notarized, can be dropped off in person, along with the appropriate filing fee, to either California Secretary of State's offices in Sacramento or Los Angeles, or can be mailed with the appropriate filing fee to the California Secretary of State at the return address provided on the declaration.

9. How do you terminate a registered domestic partnership?

In circumstances when a registered domestic partnership meets all the requirements listed in California Family Code section 299(a), the domestic partnership may be terminated by filing a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership Form NP/SF DP-2 with the California Secretary of State. In many circumstances, however, domestic partnerships only can be dissolved by initiating a dissolution proceeding in Superior Court. If you have questions about terminating a domestic partnership, you should consult with a private attorney.

10. When will a termination of a domestic partnership take effect?

The domestic partnership will be terminated effective six months after the date of filing of the Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State provided that neither party has, before the effective date, filed with the California Secretary of State a Revocation of Termination of Domestic Partnership (Form NP/SF DP-3), as provided by California Family Code section 299. If all conditions of California Family Code section 299 cannot be met, domestic partnerships must be terminated through proceedings in California Superior Court.

11. How do you terminate a registered domestic partnership in which the domestic partners also are married to each other?

Partners in a registered domestic partnership who also are married to one another may file a petition in California Superior Court to dissolve both the domestic partnership and the marriage in a single proceeding. If you have questions about dissolving a domestic partnership and marriage in these circumstances, you should consult with a private attorney.

12. What are the rights and responsibilities of registered domestic partners?

Under California law, registered domestic partners generally have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as are granted to and imposed upon spouses. Many of the rights, protections, benefits, responsibilities, obligations and duties under California law are provided in the California Family Code, beginning with section 297. However, questions relating to the specific rights and responsibilities that are not listed in those provisions of the California Family Code should be directed to a private attorney to assist with the evaluation of your specific circumstances and to ensure you receive accurate information.

13. My partner and I have already registered our domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State. We both since legally have changed our names. What do we need to do to have these changes reflected with our domestic partnership registration with the State?

Although domestic partners can change names at the time of registration, there is no provision in the law to change the registration to reflect subsequent name changes for a domestic partner as appearing in the Domestic Partners Registry. We suggest keeping copies of the legal name change documents with your copy of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership.

14. My partner and I plan to register our domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State in the near future and would like to change our names. How can we do this?

One or both partners can change their middle or last names on the Declaration of Domestic Partnership form as part of the registration. Information concerning this name change process can be found in California Family Code sections 298, 298.5 and 298.6.

15. Are the names and addresses in the Domestic Partners Registry considered to be public information?

Unless you have filed a Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A, the California Family Code, California Government Code, and other California Codes do not specify that the information in the Registry is confidential; therefore, the information contained in the Registry is public information. Please note however that the address required to be provided by the domestic partners for the registration is a mailing address, rather than a residence address. A Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A is a permanent record that is not open to the public. Only the registered domestic partners may obtain a copy of their confidential domestic partnership filing. Persons other than the domestic partners only may obtain a copy of a confidential domestic partnership filing only by presenting a court order granting permission.

16. Do you need to be California residents to register as domestic partners?

There is no California residency requirement in the law. The requirements to register a domestic partnership can be found in the California Family Code, beginning with section 297(b).

If you determine you and your partner are eligible to file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership, you can complete the Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1 or Confidential Declaration of Domestic Partnership Form DP-1A online, print it and have your signatures notarized. A notary public in any state can notarize the signatures. However, if the out-of-state notary public cannot use the preprinted acknowledgment form, the notary public can complete a separate certificate and attach the separate certificate to the registration form. The registration form and required filing fee can then be returned by mail to our Sacramento office or dropped off in person to either California Secretary of State office in Sacramento or Los Angeles.

17. What are the financial or medical benefits of registering with the Domestic Partners Registry?

The general rights and benefits for registered domestic partners can be found in the California Family Code, beginning with section 297. However, specific questions relating to insurance, financial or other benefits should be directed to a private attorney to assist with the evaluation of your specific circumstances and to ensure you receive accurate information.

18. Are registered domestic partners treated the same as spouses for all legal and tax purposes?

No. While California generally treats registered domestic partners and married couples equally in terms of rights and responsibilities, the federal government does not always treat registered domestic partners the same as spouses for legal or tax purposes. As an example, registered domestic partners are not considered married for federal tax purposes (see the IRS FAQ for Registered Domestic Partners for further information.) Those considering entering into a registered domestic partnership should understand the federal implications and consult with an attorney, tax advisor, or other professional, if necessary, regarding their specific situation before registration.

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