Domestic Partnership in Pennsylvania


Many would want to know what a Domestic Partnership is all about. A domestic partnership is a union between two people who are in a relationship but are not married and who live together. Domestic partnership in Pennsylvania is not yet recognized on a statewide basis.

Learn more about domestic partnership and Domestic partnership in Pennsylvania by reading on.

What is a domestic partnership?

A domestic partnership is an official relationship between two unmarried adults before marriage.

However, the City of Philadelphia recognizes them. It provides them the same rights and benefits as other spouses, including healthcare, and leaves benefits if they work as exempt city workers. 

Agreements for Cohabitation

Couples living together but not married in the rest of Pennsylvania may use a cohabitation agreement to recognize certain rights.

 This legal agreement outlines each party’s obligations and duties in the union, including but not limited to debt obligations, property rights, custody arrangements, and parenting duties.

If the partnership terminates, a cohabitation agreement may also specify what will happen to certain assets, debts, and parental duties. 

It can reveal each person’s individual assets when a relationship ends and the assets the couple jointly obtained and are susceptible to division. 

Additionally, it can reveal who is responsible for paying whose expenses during and after a relationship ends, as well as any property interests in gifts or inheritances made to a single individual in the partnership.

Cohabitation agreements might be crucial when just one parent is the biological or adoptive parent, but both partners desire to maintain their legal parental rights. 

Even if the relationship between the parents does not eventually work out, this agreement can establish legal parental rights to custody and visitation with a young child. 

Without this arrangement, the individual without biological rights to a child can completely lose the right to visit them after a relationship ends. 

Speak with a skilled Pennsylvania family law attorney to learn more about the advantages of domestic partnerships and cohabitation agreements.

How to Get Domestic Partnership Status

A couple must fulfill specific standards to form a recognized domestic partnership. According to state law, these criteria may be different. 

In addition to being in a committed relationship, they must live together (share a domicile).

The couple must submit a Declaration of Domestic Partnership to the Secretary of State or City Clerk in various locations. 

This formal document makes their commitment to one another known in public. At the county level, domestic partnerships are officially recognized in several states, including Oregon, Colorado, and Wisconsin. 

Other states, like New Jersey, Hawaii, and Nevada, have domestic partnership statutes unique to their jurisdictions.

Advantages of Domestic Partnership

Domestic partners enjoy the same advantages as married spouses. They do not, however, receive all of the privileges of marriage.

Domestic partners are eligible for some of the legal privileges of marriage but not all. The advantages of these unions differ depending on the state and jurisdiction.

The following are some typical advantages of domestic partnerships:

  • Ability to obtain coverage for medical expenses under a family health insurance policy
  • Right to family leave if a partner is ill
  • Bereavement leave rights
  • Hospital and prison visitors’ privileges

Like a divorce, a domestic partnership might come to an end. A domestic partnership has officially ended in this situation. 

The splitting of common property may be a part of the procedure. Depending on how complicated the case is, termination can necessitate legal counsel.

Pennsylvania Domestic Partnership Dissolution

If you and your partner made a cohabitation agreement in Pennsylvania, you wouldn’t need to submit it to the court, but the state’s courts should uphold it. 

You will need the assistance of an expert family law attorney for any complications that occur since they will need the court’s enforcement just like any other contract would.

A Domestic Partnership’s Dissolution from Other States

Pennsylvania has two methods to end an out-of-state domestic partnership agreement. Equity Jurisdiction and Comity are two of them. The pair must terminate their partnership in the state that recognizes it if a court cannot do so for any reason.


A common law notion called comity gives a state the authority to rule on issues other states have already determined. 

Comity is only valid when there is no direct contradiction between the laws of the several states.

Pennsylvania will recognize the union as a marriage by amity so that the pair may go through the regular divorce procedures. 

After completing this step, the divorce procedure for the couple in Pennsylvania becomes a bit more complicated.

Although Pennsylvania offers these two options for ending a domestic relationship recognized by another state, they are not always appropriate.

Although most of Pennsylvania does not approve of domestic partnerships, the City of Philadelphia does for a certain number of its workers. Some of these people might wonder whether domestic partnerships are preferable to marriage. A cohabitation arrangement may be a more practical choice than marriage for some people.

Two individuals who are not legally married can get into a domestic relationship. This is still a common choice for couples who want to grant their partner certain rights without being married, and it was a popular choice for couples before homosexual marriage became legal.


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