Domes­tic Partnerships

A domes­tic part­ner­ship is loosely defined as a long-​term, com­mit­ted and exclu­sive rela­tion­ship where two indi­vid­u­als are finan­cially inter­de­pen­dent. For non-​married domes­tic part­ners, plan­ning for legal pro­tec­tion, fil­ing taxes and acquir­ing ben­e­fits can be com­pli­cated. A cou­ple that enters into a mar­riage, in any state, is granted cer­tain inalien­able rights regard­ing ben­e­fits. There are no laws in the state of Florida that pro­vide rights sim­i­lar to those of mar­riage for two peo­ple liv­ing in domes­tic partnerships.

His­tory

  • Chap­ter 741.211 of the Florida Statutes states, “No common-​law mar­riage entered into after Jan­u­ary 1, 1968, shall be valid.” This means that no “com­mon law mar­riages” or domes­tic part­ner­ships are allowed or con­sid­ered valid in the state of Florida. The only way to get ben­e­fits as a cou­ple is to enter into a legal mar­riage. If the cou­ple does not qual­ify for mar­riage in the state of Florida, the non-​married cou­ple must make other arrange­ments in order to obtain legal rights and benefits.

Sig­nif­i­cance

  • Domes­tic part­ner laws have par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance with the Les­bian, Gay, Bisex­ual and Trans­gen­der (LGBT) com­mu­nity since, as opposed to het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, same-​sex cou­ples can­not be legally mar­ried in Florida. There­fore, in Florida, LGBT cou­ples are pre­vented from obtain­ing the legal sta­tus of a mar­ried cou­ple and with­out recog­ni­tion of domes­tic part­ner­ships, they do not have access to spousal ben­e­fits, assets and plan­ning for a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion such as death or ill­ness of a partner.

Con­sid­er­a­tions

  • Domes­tic part­ner ben­e­fits have been intro­duced in cer­tain coun­ties and cities in the state of Florida. These loca­tions may offer rights and ben­e­fits to per­sons liv­ing there as domes­tic part­ners. Miami-​Dade, South Miami and Boward coun­ties, and the cities of Miami Beach, Miami, North Miami and West Palm Beach have begun rec­og­niz­ing domes­tic part­ner­ships. The cou­ple must file a domes­tic part­ner dec­la­ra­tion in those loca­tions in order to qual­ify, and the ben­e­fits are only valid within that jurisdiction.