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The Legal Protections Available to Domestic Partners in New York

Feb. 7, 2017

The decision to cohabitate with a partner is an important step in any relationship, but simply moving your stuff from one home to another may not be enough. If you are entering a domestic partnership, it is important to take the necessary steps in order to protect your financial and legal interests.

By drafting a domestic partnership agreement, a New York same-sex couple can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with having the appropriate protections in place. If you have an existing cohabitation agreement or need to start from scratch, it is important to act quickly for the benefit of yourself and your partner.

The rights and privileges of domestic partners in New York City

While domestic partners do not have the same privileges as married couples, there are certain benefits available to these couples. The City of New York granted the following rights and privileges to registered domestic partners:

  • The right to receive monetary award if one partner is killed while in the line of duty as a firefighter, police officer or employee of the city

  • The right to a monetary award if one partner is killed while trying to prevent or stop a crime

  • The right to insurance benefits in case one partner is killed in the line of duty

  • The right to visitation if one partner is in the hospital, nursing home or care facility

  • In many cases, the right to death benefits

This is not an exhaustive list, and any individual in a same-sex domestic partnership would be wise to be aware of all entitlements granted by law and to remain vigilant in case of a violation of any of these rights.

Who can legally establish a domestic partnership?

The state of New York allows a couple to register a domestic partnership if they meet the following requirements:

  • Both partners are New York residents or one partner is employed by the City of New York

  • Both partners are over the age of 18

  • Neither partner is already married

  • Partners are not closely related by blood

  • The two partners are in a continuing relationship and are living together

  • Both partners can provide proof of same residence

  • Neither partner is already in a registered domestic partnership

Registering your domestic partnership is a smart step, but you still need additional legal protection. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, a domestic partnership agreement drafted by an experienced attorney can help you with issues such as property division, finances, insurance and other complicated matters in case the partnership ends.