The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act (a.k.a. AB 205)

Domestic partnership in California

A California Law passed in 2003 which provides that registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.
Note: it is very important that you understand that these rights and benefits are only yours if you register your relationship for full domestic partner status. (See: How do we register our domestic partnership with the State of California?)

AB 205, The Basics:

Property Rights

Any property acquired once a domestic partnership is registered is considered community property. This includes debt accrued by each party during the relationship. Not typically included in community property are inheritances, bequests, or gifts not converted into community property and any income stemming from those assets.

Parenting Rights

  • Parental Presumption
    If one partner gives birth after they have registered as domestic partners, the state presumes that the other partner is the legal parent. Additionally, if a child is born to a partner or adopted by a partner once registered, and the partnership dissolves, the court will determine custody and visitation, assuming both partners will be responsible for support.
  • Stepparent/Second Parent Rights
    If a child from a previous relationship is brought into the partnership, the new partner will be given the same rights and privileges as a stepparent. Additionally, a domestic partner has the right to adopt his/her partner’s child from a previous relationship without the first partner losing custody rights.
  • Estate Planning and Probate
    If one party in a domestic partnership dies while in the State of California, the remaining partner will receive most of the benefits assigned to spouses under state law. However, because many other states do not recognize domestic partnerships, additional documentation may be needed to ensure the living partner is given access to the body or personal assets. Additionally, due to conflicts with federal law, domestic partners could still be subject to double taxation on property that was jointly owned.