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How do the new state laws affect same-sex couples?

Major changes have been made recently when it comes to same-sex partners in Washington State. Understanding how these changes will affect same-sex couples is important when dealing with numerous issues. The state has provided detailed information regarding same-sex partners and how their relationships will be viewed under the law going forward.

The state says that in order for two adults to be considered a domestic partnership, they must meet numerous statuary requirements. Per statute, they must share a residence, they must both be 18-years-old or above and at least one is 62 or above and neither can be involved in a domestic partnership with a separate person. In addition, both people must be able to consent to being in the domestic partnership, the couple cannot be related any closer than second cousins and neither must be a close relation -- niece, aunt, grandchild, etc. -- to the other individual. It doesn't matter what the gender of the people involved in the relationship are.

For there to be a domestic partnership, the couple must register with the Secretary of State of Washington There is a filing fee. If the legal requirements are not met, then the partnership could be subject to being voided. The intricacies of the new law are important as it has to do with ownership of property, insurance, debt, inheritances, custody of children and any other issue that was once limited to a marriage between a man and a woman. When there is a domestic partnership registered, it is also key to let the couple's financial institutions, insurance companies and employers know about it. Federal laws could also affect those who believe they are a legal partnership in Washington State.

There has been a long fight on the part of same-sex couples to try and receive the same rights that couples of the opposite sex receive. Those rights are slowly being granted in numerous states. Like marriages between a man and a woman, these unions sometimes end with the couple choosing to part ways. That and any other domestic partnership agreement issue have legalities attached to it and it is important for those in domestic partnerships to understand their rights.

Source: Family Law Handbook: Washington Courts, "Chapter 1: Washington State-Registered Domestic Partnerships," Accessed Dec. 2, 2014

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