DOMESTIC PARTNER AGREEMENTS…What they mean to you.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many reasons to legally marry.  But there are also many legal reasons to live together under one roof and not marry.

One reason to not marry is if one partner is getting alimony payments.  Generally, by operation of law, alimony ceases upon remarriage of the recipient.   Another reason not to marry is to be able to continue to collect social security benefits.  A third reason is that marriage is prohibited among gay and lesbian couples in the state of Florida.  They can’t marry, at least not yet and until the laws change.

Whether the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual, in addition to the emotional bonds between unmarrieds, this segment of the population CAN still protect their legal rights by executing a domestic partnership agreement.

These legal documents are contracts that set forth in legal terms, the close relationship that takes place under one roof.  They are used as proof for health insurance coverage and other company benefits of one partner to the other.  They allow for beneficiary designations, visits in the hospital, property rights, and also responsibilities of one partner to the other and the household.  They are wholly recognized and enforcable in a court of law.  They are for life partners who are in a long term relationship but choose not to marry or cannot marry. 

Issues that need to be addressed by this segment of society also include power of attorney, which allows one partner to legally stand in the shoes of the other, to sign contracts, collect rent, write checks and pay bills, open and close bank accounts, credit card accounts, purchase insurance, buy or sell property, etc.

Health care surrogacy agreements provide for health care decision making should one partner be incapacitated, unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for themselves. 

Pre need guardianship agreements are legal documents that establish one partner as legal guardian over the other and his or her property, in advance.  These agreements go into effect when and if the need arises.

Living wills are legal documents that designate who should make the decision and when to “pull the plug” should one partner become in a vegitative state.   Oftentimes a partner designates the other partner and the treating physician/s to make this decision jointly.

Cohabitation agreements set forth in a legal contract, who pays for what in the household, and how the assets and debts are to be split should the relationship fail.  There can be no divorce if there is no marriage, so cohabitation agreements serve the purpose of the prenuptial agreements for unmarrieds.

The BIG POINT is this:  IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH A PARTNER IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP AND ARE NOT GOING TO MARRY, THERE ARE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE AND SHOULD TAKE TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER UNDER THE LAW.  For more information go to the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our attorneys by calling for an appointment today.  561-835-9091.

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