Baby boomers have effected change in many areas of life as they have grown from children to young adults, and from middle aged workers to now, retired senior citizens. In Washington, those who are older than age 62 can register their relationship as a Domestic Partnership. When Social Security and pension benefits are the keystone of financial support for two people planning to marry, saying “I do” can immediately carve a chunk out of those benefits. Choosing a domestic partnership, rather than marriage can help preserve some of these funds.
What Are the Criteria for a Domestic Partnership in Washington?
Washington passed a referendum in 2014 abolishing domestic partnerships for those under age 62. Same sex couples and heterosexual couples no longer may register a domestic partnership in Washington unless they are older than age 62; these relationships were instantly converted to marriages. Those older than 62, heterosexual and same sex couples, may still register.
If you are thinking of a domestic partnership, here are the rules:
- You must be living together
- You or your partner must be at least 62 years old
- You or the other partner must be at least 18 years old
- Neither you nor your partner may already be married or engaged in a domestic partnership
- You must both be legally capable of consenting to the domestic partnership
- You must not be too closely related by blood.
When you choose to register as a domestic partnership, you and your partner will be afforded the rights and responsibilities married couples receive under the state laws. As you weigh your decision, an important caveat to note is that while Washington recognizes you as a domestic couple offering you married couples' rights, the federal government does not. This means you may continue to collect federal benefits such as Social Security with no change. It also may protect your pension benefits if your pension plan reduces benefits in the event of marriage. Finally, you may experience lowered federal income taxes when you split your income. Couples considering a domestic partnership should consult with a tax accountant as the next item on your list to explore before making your decision.
Domestic Partnerships and Domestic Violence Charges
Couples who are in domestic partnerships sometimes experience domestic violence just as married couples sometimes do, and then may choose to end the partnership. Ending a domestic partnership is like a divorce. If you decide to end your domestic partnership, a court order must be obtained by filing a dissolution action in the state Superior Court.
If you have been charged with domestic abuse in your domestic partnership, there are possible fines and jail time connected to these charges. Steve Karimi has extensive experience defending a myriad of criminal offenses including domestic violence. If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence in a domestic partnership, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Steve will use his experience as a former prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights according to the law.