Do I Have Rights in a Domestic Partnership?

Posted on April 6th, 2021

For some Pennsylvania couples, they may decide that the idea of traditional marriage is just not for them. However, they still want to be legally bound in some way. In those cases, opposite-sex and same-sex couples may enter into a domestic partnership–but do these couples have the same legal rights? Kalinoski Law Offices explains your rights in a domestic partnership.

What is a Domestic Partnership?

A Domestic Partnership Agreement, also known as a Cohabitation Agreement, is a legal agreement between a couple that has chosen to live together but is not married. In the domestic partnership, each person’s rights and responsibilities are established in regard to financial expenses and assets acquired during the period of their cohabitation.

In domestic partnerships, each party may establish an agreement for child-related and parenting issues. However, custody is determined by the court system.

While domestic partnerships are not recognized state-wide, some cities in Pennsylvania do acknowledge domestic partnership law.

For example, in Pittsburgh, “Comparable domestic partners and common-law spouses shall be eligible for health insurance, dental insurance, vision care insurance, sick leave, bereavement leave, or family leave, and the ability to participate in the bonus waiver program, as are provided to other City employees and their families, to the extent consistent with the contractual obligations of the City’s health care insurance providers.”

However, it does not mean that you will necessarily be able to enter a domestic partnership where you live in the Keystone State. Instead, Pennsylvania recognizes same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. In addition, as of January 2, 2005, common-law marriage has been abolished in Pennsylvania. That means that any common-law marriage entered into after that date will not be legally recognized. However, couples who entered into a common-law marriage before January 2, 2005, are still recognized as married.

For those couples who entered a common-law marriage before January 2005, they still have the same rights as any married couple for estate and property purposes and will need to file for divorce if they wish to end their marriage.

While you are navigating if marriage is right for you, or if you and your partner are seeking other legal rights, contact Kalinoski Law Offices. We can help you determine what step is right for you.

Couples Rights In PA: Kalinoski Law Offices

Our family law firm is committed to achieving the desired outcome of your case. If you are seeking legal guidance on family law matters or partnership laws, visit us.

For more information, contact our Scranton, Dickson City, and Moosic family law firm for a free initial consultation.

Category: Family Law

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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