Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage in New York – What Is the Difference?

There are a lot of important decisions to make in life, and one of the biggest is what type of arrangement to enter into when you and another partner decide to share your lives together. In some parts of the world, marriage is the only way to join two people together legally. But in other places, like New York, you can either get married or enter into a domestic partnership. Understanding what makes these two types of relationships different is important before you make a decision that will guide the rest of your life.

What Is Marriage?

Marriage is the official legal union between two people that the government recognizes. To get married, you must seek a marriage license from the state of New York. Getting a marriage license usually requires you and your partner to appear in person at a clerk’s office, fill out an application, and pay a fee. Once the license is issued, you have 60 days to get married. After the marriage ceremony, the officiant signs the marriage license and sends it back to the clerk’s office to be recorded.

To officially get married in New York, you must be at least 18 years old. If you are under this age limit, you can get married with the consent of your parent, guardian, or permission from a judge.

Some other details of getting married in New York include the following:

  • You do not need to be actively residing in New York to get married in the state.
  • There is no waiting period to get married in New York once you have obtained your marriage license.
  • You can have your marriage ceremony performed by various officiants, including priests, ministers, rabbis, and civil servants.
  • If you are already married to someone else, you cannot get married again in New York unless you are legally divorced.

What Is a Domestic Partnership?

A domestic partnership in New York is a legal relationship between two people who live together and are not married. To form a domestic partnership, you must file a notice of domestic partnership with the New York Secretary of State. This notably used to be done by same-sex couples before marriage equality was legalized in New York in 2011. After legalization, the number of domestic partnerships in the state has decreased dramatically. However, the option still exists for those who choose not to marry or cannot marry under state law.

There are a few key differences between domestic partnerships and marriage in New York. One is that domestic partnerships are not recognized by the federal government, while marriages are. This means that if you are in a domestic partnership and your partner dies, you will not be able to receive Social Security benefits or any other type of federal survivor benefit.

Another difference is that there is no waiting period to form a domestic partnership in New York. Once you have filed your notice of domestic partnership, it is effective immediately. Finally, while there is no specific age requirement to enter into a domestic partnership in New York, you must be legally competent to enter into a contract. This means that you must be of sound mind and not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, among other things.

There are many things to consider when choosing between marriage and a domestic partnership. Ultimately, that decision is up to you and your partner. If you are unsure, speak with an attorney to learn more about the pros and cons of each type of relationship before making a decision.

FAQs About Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage in New York

Is Domestic Partnership the Same as Marriage in New York?

No, a domestic partnership is not the same as a marriage in New York. It is a legal relationship between two people who live together and are financially dependent on one another but are not married. Domestic partnerships provide some of the same rights and benefits as marriage, like hospital visitation rights and the ability to file joint state tax returns, but not all the rights and benefits recognized at the federal level.

What Is the Difference Between a Marriage and a Domestic Partnership?

The main difference between a marriage and a domestic partnership is that marriages are recognized by the federal government, while domestic partnerships are not. This means couples in domestic partnerships do not have access to federal benefits like Social Security survivor benefits or spousal immigration status. Additionally, marriages can only be ended through divorce, while domestic partnerships can be ended by either party simply moving out of state.

Does Domestic Partnership Mean You’re Married?

While two people will enter into a domestic partnership to feel like they are married, it is not the same as a marriage. A marriage is a legal contract that can only be ended by divorce, while a domestic partnership does not have to be ended through any specific process and can be ended simply by one person moving out of state. Additionally, marriages confer federal benefits that are not available to domestic partnerships. While you are welcome to share with others that you feel married to your partner, the legal reality is that you are not.

Can You Enter a Marriage After Being in a Domestic Partnership?

Sometimes after being in a domestic partnership, a couple will want to get married. If this is the case, they can simply get married like any other couple. There is no need to dissolve the domestic partnership first, as it will automatically be dissolved when the marriage is registered. This is also one of the benefits of a domestic partnership—it can be ended much more easily than a marriage.

Contact Trotto Law Firm, P.C., Today

If you have questions about domestic partnership vs. marriage in New York, or any other family law matters, contact Trotto Law Firm, P.C., today. Our experienced attorneys can walk you through each option in greater detail and try to assess which would be best for you and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about marriages and domestic partnerships in New York.

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