Are you in a same-sex intimate relationship under a Registered Domestic Partnership? Are you aware that on June 30, 2014, the State of Washington plans to convert all registered same-sex domestic partnerships into married couples? Is that what you want to have happen in your relationship? Many same-sex couples have no idea this is about to happen. Here’s the deal:
Washington lawmakers authorized domestic partnerships in 2007, five years before same-sex marriage became legal. The law granted a range of marriage-like benefits to gay and lesbian couples, as well as to heterosexual couples in which at least one partner is sixty-two years old. Over 10,000 coupled registered as domestic partners. Well, not surprisingly, life comes along, things change, and you may not be where you were seven years ago.
Here’s an example: you or your partner may have broken up with someone else years ago and you are now married – illegally – because one or the other of you was in a registered domestic partnership (RDP). But that RDP was never dissolved. You or your partner can wind up married to that ex! If an ex-partner of yours or your partner’s lives in another state where same-sex partnerships aren’t recognized, a dissolution may not possible.
If the legal change in status coming June 30th does not line up with where you want to be on July 1st, you will need to speak with an attorney right now – within the next 30 days – in order to make sure you don’t find yourself accidentally married on June 30th of this year to another partner, or, to a partner you don’t want to marry. All RDP dissolutions need to be undertaken before March 30, 2014 in order to avoid the legal status change to marriage that occurs on June 30. Don’t wait!
If, however, if you are in an RDP and you are happy with the automatic change into legal status as a married person (with all of the legal ramifications that entails), then there’s no need to worry about your relationship status, but you may want to review your wills and estate planning. Congratulations!