Domestic Partnerships

DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP IN NEVADA

With the override of Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto, Nevada has adopted a law allowing for the registration of domestic partners. A close review of the language in S.B. 283 indicates that the intent of the legislature was to create an institution that applies to both different-sex and same-sex couples that mirrors marriage without calling it that.

Beginning on October 1, 2009, two persons who are both at least 18 years of age can enter into a domestic partnership by filing a specified form with the Nevada Secretary of State and paying a filing fee, currently set at $50.

Without calling it a marriage, the new law grants the same rights, protections, and privileges which a couple entering into a valid Nevada marriage enjoy. Additionally, couples who have entered into a valid domestic partnership in other states will have their partnership recognized as valid in Nevada as well.

Along with the privileges that are granted with the new law, obligations and responsibilities also are considered and contemplated. Nevada’s “divorce” laws, which are found in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapters 125, 125A, 125B, and 125C all apply to the parties that seek a dissolution of the partnership. A good portion of NRS Chapter 123 – “Rights of Husband and Wife” – is also applicable, even though the law does not ever use these terms. (The word “spouse” appears in the law but only as a descriptor of the rights enjoyed.)

There also appears to be the right to enter into pre- and post-partnership agreements, just the same as a couple contemplating marriage are allowed to do by way of a premarital agreement governed by NRS Chapter 123A.

It should be noted that this new law is only applicable within the state of Nevada, although other States with similar laws could choose to recognize domestic partnerships entered into here, as Nevada has chosen to do with such partnerships entered into elsewhere. As of this time, the Federal Government does not recognize domestic partnerships, which means your partner will not be eligible for Social Security benefits based upon the valid partnership entered into in Nevada, and federal taxes must continue to be filed as if both parties were single.

Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal Government is barred from providing eligibility for health care benefits, pension benefits, and survivorship benefits under Federal employment. DOMA has been challenged as unconstitutional in the 9th Circuit, but OPM – the Federal Governments Human Resources Department – has held strong that they can’t comply with the Court’s Order. Obviously, there will be further developments as this matter moves through the various courts, and in Congress, and changes could (and probably will) happen quickly.

For a more detailed overview of the new law and a copy of the required form for registering a domestic partnership, click the link below.