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There are a few ways for couples to formalize their relationship, one of which is the domestic partnership agreement. Our firm has been guiding clients through the family legal system for 20 years and has significant experience handling partnership matters like finances, child support, and property division. We help heterosexual and same-sex couples in Orlando navigate their relationship with regards to the law, and we can help you draft a thorough domestic partnership agreement that reflects your interests and needs.
What Is a Domestic Partnership Agreement?
A domestic partnership is an arrangement in which two adults are in a committed family relationship and share their homes and assets without the formality of a legal marriage. Anyone who does not wish to marry for any reason can elect to be domestic partners instead, as a formal partnership can help to protect the rights of both partners and any children they may have.
Keep in mind that a domestic partnership agreement is not recognized by the family courts in Florida and cannot be enforced in the same manner as a marriage contract. However, it can be enforced under contract law in most cases.
What a Domestic Partnership Agreement Entails
A domestic partnership agreement can establish a number of terms, such as:
- how property and assets should be distributed in case of death or breakup;
- how any debts should be handled;
- how minor children will be cared for (custody rights);
- how child and/or partner support will be handled;
- how pets will be cared for;
- healthcare arrangements between partners and regarding children and/or pets;
- plans for the death or mental incapacitation of a partner.
If properly executed, a domestic partnership agreement can provide stable peace of mind and serve as a solid foundation for a successful relationship. Partners can feel more assured that they have their interests and goals in writing so they may refer back to them if necessary. Such an agreement is also crucial in the event that you and your partner decide to separate.
Why You Need a Domestic Partnership Agreement
In most cases, you should consider a domestic partnership agreement if:
- you live with your partner and share expenses, a lease or mortgage, and other items, and you would like to be considered by a court as equal cohabitants;
- you plan to live with your partner and would like to define the financial terms of your situation.
Similar in nature to a prenuptial agreement, a domestic partnership agreement serves as a written contract for straight and same-sex couples that establishes your mutual rights with respect to property, children, and pets should you separate and in case of death. It also states any financial obligations or expectations you may both have.
By writing a domestic partnership agreement now when all is well in your relationship, you can avoid a costly legal dispute in the unlikely event things don’t work out. To formalize your agreement, you will both need your own lawyer to review and sign the agreement.
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