How to Register As a Domestic Partner in Maryland

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Maryland domestic partnerships are similar to marriage, in that they offer couples the opportunity to formalize their relationship and obtain some legal protection as to matters such as hospital visits and health insurance. Before 2013, many domestic partners were same-sex couples who entered into a domestic partnership because they did not have the right to legally marry. Today, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples choose to register a domestic partnership as an alternative to saying “I do.”

Meet State Requirements

Maryland law defines domestic partners as two individuals of any gender in a mutually caring relationship, 18 years of age or older, who share a common residence. To register your partnership, you must be able to produce at least two items of proof that you are living together and are mutually interdependent such as a joint bank account statement or property deed. Neither you nor your partner may be married or have had a different domestic partner in the last six months.

Swear an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership

An affidavit of domestic partnership, sworn by both partners, is evidence that you have created a formal domestic partnership that you wish to be recognized by law. You can draft this document yourself using the template available on the State of Maryland website or hire an attorney to do it for you. Speak with a lawyer if you wish to make specific arrangements for your assets or specify what will happen if you choose to separate – these matters are not covered by the standard affidavit.

Register Your Domestic Partnership

Maryland does not maintain a state registry of domestic partnerships, but some counties and cities do. The city of Takoma Park, for example, registers domestic partnerships on a voluntary basis and issues an official certificate as proof that you have established a domestic partnership under the laws of the city. Registration offers no immediate benefits – it’s the affidavit that creates the domestic partnership, not the registry entry. However, third parties such as insurance companies and employers can look at the registry to decide who is eligible for employee benefits and so on. Contact your city or county to see if and how you can register in your area.

Before You Take the Plunge

Now that same-sex marriage is legal, the benefits of a Maryland domestic partnership versus marriage have become slightly less clear. Other states do not always recognize domestic partnerships as they do marriages, and federal tax laws that benefit married couples are not generally available for domestic partners. On the other hand, domestic partnerships are easier to establish and to end without too many strings attached. Do some research on the pros and cons of registering a domestic partnership before you decide whether it is the right option for you.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal, the benefits of a Maryland domestic partnership versus marriage have become slightly less clear. Other states do not always recognize domestic partnerships as they do marriages, and federal tax laws that benefit married couples are not generally available for domestic partners. On the other hand, domestic partnerships are easier to establish and to end without too many strings attached. Do some research on the pros and cons of registering a domestic partnership before you decide whether it is the right option for you.

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