When it comes to relationships between two people, there are a variety of legal statuses that can be applied. Domestic partnerships, civil unions, and recognized relationships are three such statuses that provide varying levels of legal protection for couples who choose not to marry.
A domestic partnership is a relationship between two people who live together and share a common domestic life but are not married. This type of arrangement provides some legal recognition to the couple’s relationship but does not offer the same rights as marriage. In most cases, domestic partnerships do not offer any tax benefits or access to health insurance coverage through one partner’s employer.
Civil unions are similar to domestic partnerships but with more extensive rights and responsibilities than domestic partnerships. The five states that permitted civil unions allowed same-sex couples to access various benefits available to married couples such as inheritance laws, joint tax filing status, adoption rights, medical decision making authority, and more. However, civil unions are not recognized on a federal level like marriages are so they do not grant access to certain federal benefits such as Social Security survivor benefits or immigration sponsorship privileges for foreign partners.
Recognized relationships are similar to civil unions in that they provide some legal recognition for couples who choose not to marry but want their relationship acknowledged by the state. These arrangements may also provide certain rights and responsibilities such as inheritance rights or access to health insurance coverage through one partner’s employer. However, they do not offer any federal recognition or access to federal benefits such as Social Security or veterans’ benefits.
Limited rights statutes provide some basic legal protections for same-sex couples but do not grant them all the same rights as marriage or civil unions. These statutes vary from state to state but typically grant some protection related to hospital visitation rights or medical decision making authority for an incapacitated partner. However, they do not provide any financial or property related benefits like marriage or civil unions do. What type of status you and your partner have can also affect filings such as bankruptcy or social security. If you have joint debts that are going unpaid, you should consult a local bankruptcy lawyer in Birmingham or wherever you live about them.
No matter what type of relationship you choose – whether it be marriage, a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a recognized relationship – it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under the law so you can make an informed decision about what is best for you and your partner.