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Domestic Partnership VS. Marriage: What’s The Difference?

Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage 

We have states that recognize same-sex marriages while others don’t. Therefore, it is important to understand what the law in your area says before you engage in this practice. That is why this article looks at the benefits and differences between domestic partnership vs. marriage. Getting this understanding will help you to make an informed decision in life. 

What Is A Domestic Partnership?

This is the best starting point for comparing and contrasting the difference between a domestic partnership vs. marriage. A domestic partnership is typically a marriage alternative for couples of the same sex. It helps people in defining the status of their relationship. 

With a domestic partnership, both you and your partner will enjoy the benefits that married couples enjoy. The domestic partnership may allow someone to add his partner to their health insurance plan. However, you have to prove that you are committed to the relationship by providing a shared bank account. 

In a marriage, you don’t have to prove your commitment in order to add your partner to your insurance cover. This requirement is unique to domestic partnership vs. marriage. 

In most cases, the domestic partner is allowed to adopt the kids of his partner via the 2nd parent adoption. However, the biological parent has to relinquish his or her parental rights in order for this to take place. The domestic partnership agreement is used to make domestic partnership official. The section will also help you to understand what is a domestic partner. 

Domestic Partnership VS. Marriage 

Domestic partnerships give the partners some of the benefits that married couples get. However, there are so many differences between a marriage vs. domestic partnership. Marriages tend to have more protections and benefits than a domestic partnership. 

Almost all states in most countries recognize marriages. However, most states, especially in America, don’t recognize domestic partnerships. 

According to law, a partnership is not a family. However, some companies and workplaces qualify domestic partners for the same rights. Even if your state does not recognize a domestic partnership, employers may allow the partner to get the employer benefits. 

Domestic partnership is not recognized at the federal level. Therefore, you cannot petition for your non-citizen partner like is the case with married couples. 

When a married couple dies, the other partner automatically inherits his or her assets without incurring any taxes. In domestic partnership, you can inherit the assets of your partner through a will subject to the available taxes. 

Remember every state defines marriage in its own way. Some of them allow same-sex marriage while others have banned it. If you are in a domestic partnership, this relationship may not be recognized when you travel to another county or cross state borders.  It is one of the key differences between domestic partnership vs. marriage. Some of the characteristics that define a domestic partnership include:

  1. In a domestic partnership, the people must share a common residence 
  2. In a domestic partnership, a solemnization ceremony is no a requirement
  3. Domestic partnership couples must file as a single in the tax returns 
  4. Domestic partnership partners cannot generally receive the federal benefits of one another 
  5. The domestic partnership partners should register as such in their state of residence. 

One of the regions that have legalized domestic partnerships in the United States is Nevada. If you register your domestic partnership in a different state, you should also register as such in Nevada to be able to get the benefits of being partner. This is different from married couples because they are recognized as married all over the United States and there is no need to register first. 

If you are a domestic partner couple from another state and you need to register in Nevada, you don’t have to pay the filing fee if you have a partnership certificate from your state. It is an important thing to note when looking at domestic partnership vs. marriage. 

Domestic Partnership Benefits 

Initially, domestic partnerships were created to offer basic economic and legal protections to same-sex couples. Marriages are legal all over the United States for everyone. However, individuals from different walks of life can choose to get into a domestic partnership and not a marriage for several reasons. Some of the top benefits of a domestic partnership include: 

  • It is a lawful alternative to marriage
  • The right to get a bereavement leave 
  • Domestic partnership parties avoid the marriage tax penalty that forces married people to get to a higher tax bracket. 
  • The right to get a family leave for your sick partner 
  • Full legal obligations and rights that are related to raising a child who is born during the time of the domestic partnership 
  • Partners can generally get a family health insurance policy coverage 
  • Right to visit your partner in jail or hospital 
  • The ability to adopt a kid that is born to a partner before the domestic partnership 

These are the main benefits when comparing a partnership vs. marriage. However, domestic partners lack so many benefits that can only be found among legally married couples. For instance, a domestic partnership is not recognized everywhere even within the United States. 

Benefits Available In Marriages Only 

A marriage is a legally binding and federally recognized affair that has more than 1000 benefits. Most of these benefits are not available in a domestic partnership. It is one of the defining elements of a marriage vs. domestic partnership. Top on the list of benefits include: 

  • You can inherit the estate of your spouse 
  • Sponsor your spouse for immigration 
  • Receive veterans, social security, and pension benefits via your spouse, 
  • Get financial support from your partner.
  • Divide marital assets during  the divorce process
  • Transfer to the other spouse unlimited amounts of assets without paying taxes 

Matrimony is highly traditional which makes it a familiar way of acknowledging a relationship. Even though this is not technically one of the benefits of a marriage, some people believe that marriages are more acceptable and “serious” in comparison to domestic partners. 

In most cases, individuals who are in domestic partnerships command less respect in comparison to the married couples. It is something that you cannot avoid when looking at domestic partnership vs. marriage. 


There is an endless debate that exists between domestic partnership vs. marriage. In case you wish to join a domestic partnership, you have to make sure that you understand the state requirements. Each option has its own pros and cons. The most important thing is to go for something that will feel right for both you and your partner.

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Sofia Kelly is a passionate blogger. She loves to share her thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world through blogging.

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