Until recently, only three cities and one county in the Tampa Bay area recognized domestic partnerships. For unmarried couples (gay or straight) living in those areas, this conferred important legal standing and represented a foot in the door to full marriage equality.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex relationships are a fundamental right with the full protection of the United States Constitution. This means that Florida (or any other state) cannot maintain laws and regulations that prohibit domestic partnerships and marriages, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
Brandon Family Law Center, LLC, represents clients in registering or dissolving domestic partnerships in Florida. Our lawyers assist in the negotiation and drafting of domestic partnership agreements, and they can step in to enforce your rights if you meet resistance from landlords, health care providers or other parties. Although the constitutional law has been established, many people will remain reluctant to honor the rights of same-sex couples, so it is important to have an attorney on your side in these situations.
Domestic Partnerships And Florida Law
Domestic partnerships are available to both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples and, where recognized, will confer many of the rights and benefits of marriage such as:
- The right to visit a partner in the hospital
- The right to make medical decisions
- The right to health insurance through a partner
- The right to employee benefits as a dependent
- The right to parental leave/family medical leave
- The right to be involved in funeral arrangements
Domestic Partnership Agreements
An important element of domestic partnerships is the recognition of property rights. As in marriage, partners each make tangible contributions to income, accumulation of wealth and family life and should receive fair consideration if the relationship is dissolved. A domestic partnership agreement settles or addresses some of these issues in advance — such as jointly owned real estate, lease obligations, joint accounts, possessions and debts. An agreement may also address intentions regarding custody, child support and financial support of a partner.
Now that same-sex marriage is a legal right throughout the country, you might be in a domestic partnership and considering marriage. We can help you with all aspects of matrimonial law for same-sex couples.
Mary L. Greenwood has practiced family law in Florida since 1989 and has experience with contracts and disputes between LGBT couples, including registered domestic partnerships in Tampa, St. Petersburg and other communities of Pinellas County. In addition to her litigation skills, she is trained in mediation and collaborative law.
To discuss LGBT family law with our domestic partnership attorney, call 813-438-7119 or (toll free) 800-769-0129, or contact us online.