Domestic Partnership Vs. Marriage: What's The Difference?

Every relationship is different. We've come a long way from the days when everyone was expected to follow the conventional dating trajectory: Date around until you find the right person, make your relationship official, and then get married after a certain amount of years. More and more couples are breaking away from traditional dating markers and choosing to go at their own pace, even if it means that marriage isn't in the cards. Some seek out alternatives to marriage such as a domestic partnership.

Domestic partnerships have been around for a long time, and per the ACLU, are meant to recognize people in committed relationships, no matter their sexuality or gender identity. While domestic partnerships are open to everyone, it's impossible to erase the history of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and couples who were denied the right to get married until the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling (via NPR).

Today, the idea that marriage is the be-all, end-all for successful relationships is slowly changing. What's right for one couple may not fit another, and now there's room for you and your partner to decide what commitment looks like for you. That may be marriage, or a domestic partnership. Before you make any decisions, it's important to understand the differences between the two.

What a domestic partnership is and is not

There are benefits to entering a domestic partnership and getting married. There are also setbacks. Per The Balance, domestic partners aren't impacted by the marriage tax penalty since they file separately and are not considered married. But domestic partners miss out on other tax benefits available to married couples including a bigger tax deduction.

Legal services company The Rocket Lawyer stresses that domestic partnerships aren't as protected as marriages or even recognized in every state. Select companies might grant you access to your partner's benefits, but this is the exception and not the norm. Per Bustle, the rights of married couples (including health insurance, death benefits) are more consistent across the board. In a domestic partnership, they often vary by state. New York is one of the states where the benefits are the same for the domestic partners of city employees (via Bustle). 

Many factors go into deciding between a domestic partnership or marriage, including where you are your partner will settle down, if you're in a state that recognizes domestic partnerships, and the benefits offered. Both are equally important, and are just one way to show your commitment in a way that feels right for you and your partner.