Domestic Partners

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Two persons engaged in a commitment (generally, a civil union) that is legally equivalent to marriage. Individuals generally decide to enter into domestic partnership because they wish to avoid marriage or because they are barred from marriage. Entering into civil union allows such individuals to obtain benefits and protections that are identical to or that resemble those available to married couples.

Though some states do not allow the formation of civil unions, all states are bound by the principles of comity and federalism to honor domestic partnerships created in other states.

Domestic partnerships have become less common after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) that same-sex marriage is a constitutionally guaranteed right.

Related terms:

Civil union

Civil union partners

Family & personal matters

Life events



[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]