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Some domestic partnerships in Washington to become marriages

Couples in registered domestic partnerships in Washington may get a big surprise in the mail soon. The state will be converting many domestic partnerships to marriage on June 30, and they are sending out notices to couples in registered domestic partnerships in Washington.

Who will be impacted by this change? Couples in domestic partnerships that were registered by the state of Washington will have their partnerships automatically converted to marriage as long as both individuals are under the age of 62 and they haven't already converted the partnership to marriage. Couples in the process of dissolving their domestic partnership will not be impacted by this change.

To help couples understand the process and if any action needs to be taken, the Secretary of State is sending notices to couples with active domestic partnerships in Washington. The state said roughly 6,200 couples will have their partnerships automatically changed to marriage. The Washington Department of Health is handling the conversion of the domestic partnerships. The state said couples can request a copy of their marriage certificate from the DOH in July after the conversion is completed. 

The automatic conversion to marriage will impact many same-sex couples in domestic partnerships in Washington. While many couples may not be thinking about dissolving their relationship right now, the conversion to marriage could significantly change the dissolution process in the future. Dissolving a marriage is different than dissolving a domestic partnership so there are many different considerations Washington couples will have to make. 

Will the conversion of domestic partnerships to marriage make dissolving the marriage easier or harder for same-sex couples in Washington? That is a difficult question because each case is different so it may be best to consult a family law attorney to discuss specific issues and concerns when starting the dissolution of marriage process. 

Source: The Seattle Times, "State notifying thousands that partnerships will be marriages," Lornet Turnbull, March 13, 2014

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