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New York Domestic Partnership Lawyer

The definition of family is evolving. Why legal marriage is still common, many couples are choosing not to get married even though they are in committed relationships. Many of the dynamics of committed relationships are objectively the same as those of married couples. For example, in addition to cohabitating, they may have children together, and they may commingle assets. Their relationships sometimes end, just as marriages sometimes end. As a result, over the years the law has also evolved to put some legal structure around such relationships. New York enacted a Domestic Partnership Law to legally recognize the committed relationships of couples who choose not to marry and to protect the rights of those in such relationships. If you are in a committed relationship and have questions related to your legal rights and obligations, contact an experienced New York domestic partnership lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Domestic Partnership

Under New York’s domestic partner law, a person is a domestic partner if the person entered into a domestic partnership or registered as a domestic partner, is named as the another person’s beneficiary or is covered under a that person’s benefits, or is dependent or mutually interdependent on the other person for support. Examples of interdependence includes common ownership of housing, comingling income, and having children together.

In order to qualify to register to become a Domestic Partnership, the couple must meet the requirements of the county in which they register. Examples of requirements include:

  • Residency. The partners must be a resident of the county in which they choose to register. If registering in New York City, both partners must be residents of New York City or at least one of the partners must be employed by the City of New York on the date of registration.
  • Age requirement. Both persons must be at least 18.
  • Not married. Neither party is married.
  • Unrelated. The parties are not related by blood.
  • Close and committed relationship. The partners must have a close and committed relationship, must live together, and must have been living together continuously for 6 months.
  • No other domestic partnership. Neither partner is currently in another domestic partnership nor registered as a member of another Domestic Partnership within the last six months.

To create a domestic partnership, a form most be filed with the county. Each county or city clerk's office has its own format. Both partners must be physically present at the clerk's office to apply and must present identification. A fee must be paid. The application must be signed by both partners. Th clerk’s office will notarize it. The couple will receive a Certificate of Domestic Partnership.

Rights of Domestic Partners

When a couple registers as domestic partners, they gain certain rights they would not otherwise have. The rights depend on which county the couple registered. If the couple registers in New York City, they are entitled to the following rights:

  • Family leave. Domestic partners are entitled to bereavement leave and child care leave for City employees
  • Prison visitation. Domestic partners are entitled to visitation in a City correctional or juvenile detention facility
  • Hospital visitation. Domestic partners are entitled to visitation in facilities operated by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
  • NYC Housing privileges. Domestic partners are eligible to qualify as a family member for purposes of New York City Housing Authority rules
  • Tenancy and occupancy rights. Domestic partners are eligible to qualify as a family member entitled to succeed to the tenancy or occupancy rights under Department of Housing Preservation and Development rules
  • Health benefits. Domestic partners are entitled to health benefits provided by the City of New York

To learn more about the rights and benefits of domestic partners, contact an experienced New York domestic partnership lawyer.

Dissolution of Domestic Partnerships

Just like marriages, domestic partnerships do not always last. Because domestic partnerships are legal relationships just like marriages, there is a legal process that the couple must go through in order to legally end the domestic partnership. While the specific process for terminating a domestic partnership depends on the county, the process is relatively simply as compared to dissolving a marriage. Generally, at any time either domestic partner can terminate the partnership by filing a statement that you and the other person are no longer a couple. The statement must be filed at the county or city office that processed the original domestic partnership registration.

While filing the terminating statement will dissolve the domestic partnership, doing so does not address other issues such as property division, child custody, and child support. Because working out these details can be tricky, it would be wise for each of the parties to contact an experienced domestic partnership attorney in New York to help with these issues as there may be complicate legal implications that must be handled properly. For example, if the couple owns real estate together, decisions must be made as to who to divide the property. If the couple has children together, then the couple will have to make a custody and child support agreement or petition the court to decide custody and child support.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Just like married couples, domestic partners have concerns related to protecting assets, child custody, visitation, child support, and maintenance. While registering as a domestic partner provides couples benefits and rights that they would not otherwise be entitled to, it does not give the couple all the rights of marriage. An experienced domestic partnership attorney serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you protect your interests with respect to asset protection, child custody, and child support. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin