Family law is a particularly complex discipline, dealing as it does with intimate long-term relationships, extended financial support, and the raising of children. At Orlando Family Team, where our lead attorneys are a married couple, we understand the depth and significance of family connections as well as the painful process of dissolving them. In this content, we will take a close look at domestic partnerships in Florida, why and how they are created, their legal implications for those involved, and how they are terminated.
Differences Between a Marriage and a Domestic Partnership
While both marriage and domestic partnerships signify a committed relationship between two individuals, they differ significantly in terms of legal recognition and rights. Marriage is a legally recognized union between two individuals, defining a broad range of rights and obligations. These include tax benefits, inheritance rights, and child/partner support upon dissolution.
Domestic partnerships, in contrast, generally offer a more limited range of rights and responsibilities. Such couplings are particularly useful for couples who choose not to marry for various reasons. These partnerships can include rights such as hospital visitation and some health benefits but often lack the full legal status and wider protections of marriage.
Legal Domestic Partnerships in Florida
In Florida, only certain counties — Palm Beach, Volusia, Broward, Orange, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Leon, Monroe, and Sarasota — legally recognize domestic partnerships. In these counties, registries exist to allow couples to formally acknowledge their relationship and access certain rights and benefits within the county.
It’s vital for couples in such partnerships to understand the specific regulations and benefits involved, and to realize that if they relocate to another Florida county their relationship may not remain similarly protected.
Same-Sex Marriage vs. Domestic Partnerships
As we all know, the legal landscape for same-sex couples has changed significantly in recent years. With the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, these couples now have the option to choose between marriage and a domestic partnership.
While marriage offers more extensive legal protections, some couples may opt for a domestic partnership for personal or financial reasons. Understanding the legal implications of each choice is crucial when it comes to making wise decisions.
Creation of Domestic Partnerships in Florida
Establishing a domestic partnership in Florida typically involves registering the partnership within a county that recognizes such relationships. The process includes submitting necessary documentation and adhering to the specific requirements of the county. This may include proof of joint residence, financial interdependence, and other criteria.
Termination of Domestic Partnerships
Though more limited in scope than a union, a domestic partnership in Florida can be nearly as complicated to dissolve as a marriage, especially if there are children involved or the couple owns substantial assets. The termination process generally involves a formal separation agreement, which addresses the division of assets and responsibilities.
As in a divorce, it is critical to have a knowledgeable family law attorney on tap to make certain the interests and rights of both parties and any children in the relationship are well-protected.
Issues That Must Be Addressed in the Termination of a Domestic Partnership
When a domestic partnership is dissolved, several key issues must be addressed:
- Property Division: Unlike marriage, where property division follows specific legal doctrines, domestic partnerships often require pre-established agreements or negotiations at termination. This is where having a skilled attorney at your side is essential.
- Child Support and Custody: If children are involved, determining custody and support is the top priority. As in divorce cases, courts are always guided by what they perceive to be in the best interests of the child.
- Partner Support: Unlike marital alimony, partner support in domestic partnerships is less defined and often relies on prior agreements between the partners. During termination proceedings, however, the court may divide the couple’s assets, award child custody, and order one partner to pay child support or alimony to the other.
- Freedom of Domestic Partners After Termination
Once the domestic partnership is dissolved, both parties are free to marry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person.
Why Orlando Family Team Is the Place to Call
Our family law attorneys are highly adept at handling both the creation and termination of domestic partnerships in Florida. Our practice offers:
- Expertise in Family Law: With extensive experience in all kinds of families, including domestic partnerships, we are well-equipped to handle complex cases and ensure that your rights are protected.
- Tailored Legal Strategies: We understand that each partnership is unique, and provide personalized legal strategies to meet your particular needs.
- Comprehensive Support: From drafting partnership agreements to navigating the termination process, our team offers ongoing empathic support.
Contact Our Experienced Domestic Partnership Attorneys Today
Terminating any familial connection is difficult, but having supportive legal counsel can ease your way. At Orlando Family Team, we are committed to assisting all types of families in all kinds of circumstances. Whether you are considering entering into a domestic partnership or seeking assistance with its termination, our team is here to help you navigate the legal system in Florida. Contact us now for outstanding legal representation and respectful support.