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Domestic Partnerships

The State of New York defines “domestic partnership” as a legal relationship permitted under the State of New York laws for couples that have a close and committed personal relationship. The Domestic Partnership Law recognizes the diversity of family configurations, including lesbian, gay, and other non-traditional couples. As such, New York legally recognizes couples who prefer not to get married but are still in committed relationships.

What Qualifies as a Domestic Partnership?

A couple can register a domestic partnership in Sullivan County if they meet the following requirements:

  • The partners have a close and committed personal relationship and have lived together continuously for 6 months.
  • Both partners are County of Sullivan residents. In addition, the partners must sign a domestic partnership affidavit at the clerk’s office to swear to their residency.
  • Both people are 18 years of age or older.
  • Neither partner is currently married.
  • Neither person is currently in a domestic partnership nor has been in another domestic partnership within the last six months.
  • The partners are not related to each other by blood in a way that would prevent marriage in New York State.

If you meet all of the above requirements, you can get the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership here or at the County Clerk’s office. You must complete, sign, and notarize the form to register the domestic partnership legally with the County Clerk’s office.

The registration fee is $35 and can be paid by cash, check, credit card (plus credit card surcharge) or money order made payable to the Sullivan County Clerk.

When you apply for a domestic partnership in New York, you need to bring a valid, unexpired photo ID, with signature, to the office. Some IDs that may fit these criteria:

  • Driver’s license (from the United States or one of its territories)
  • Nondriver’s identification card (from the United States or one of its territories)
  • United States Immigration Card
  • A valid passport from any country
  • Employee Identification Card

Domestic Partnerships vs. Marriage in NYS

Domestic partners still have children, cohabit, and may even share assets despite being unmarried. In addition, domestic partners get some of the benefits that married couples receive but not all, as marriages typically include more benefits and rights than domestic partnerships.

For example, domestic partners do NOT get the following benefits that married couples do:

  • State income tax advantages
  • Spousal privilege and confidential marital communication
  • The ability to take out insurance policies on the other partner
  • The inheritance or life insurance rights without an explicit bequest in a will
  • General workers’ compensation death benefits (unless the deceased domestic partner was killed on 9/11)
  • The right to use equitable estoppel to enforce parental rights
  • The right to bring a wrongful death claim
  • The right to maintain an action in the division of property under the legal processes of marriage
  • The right to maintain an action based upon an implied contract for personal services
  • The rights afforded to marital residences
  • The right to maintain an action of loss of consortium

How Do You End a Domestic Partnership in New York?

Circumstances change in life, which may prompt you and your partner to pursue termination of your domestic partnership. If that is the case, you and/or your partner must complete a Termination Statement and have your signature(s) notarized. Bring the completed termination form to the County Clerk’s office to file. You can get the Termination Statement here or from the Clerk’s office. 

In addition, a domestic partnership may be automatically terminated in New York if you and your partner get married, whether to each other or another person.  Keep in mind that the termination fee is $35 and can be paid by cash, check, credit card (plus credit card surcharge) or money order made payable to the Sullivan County Clerk.