By Whitney Young
Did you know that before same sex marriage was legal in North Carolina, many cities and counties in our State recognized domestic partnerships and still recognize domestic partnerships today? These cities and counties include Greensboro, Asheville, Charlotte, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham County, Orange County, Mecklenburg County, and Buncombe County, where domestic partnerships do not offer the same benefits as marriage, but serve as a registration such that hospitals, businesses, and other entities may recognize the relationship. While the law is still catching up and is yet to determine whether these partnerships are still necessary today, many cities, counties, and even states still offer domestic partnerships as an alternative to marriage.
Similar to domestic partnerships, many states offer civil unions as an alternative to marriage – the pioneer of which is Vermont, having legalized civil unions in 2000. While the benefits of these unions vary among the states that offer them, civil unions generally provide more benefits to same sex couples than domestic partnerships, yet still fail to offer all the benefits of marriage. Depending on the law of the state in which the union was entered, benefits under the union may pertain to employer health insurance, property law, adoption, etc.
Although the State of North Carolina has never recognized domestic partnerships or civil unions, many states, like Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Washington, have converted all civil unions entered in their jurisdiction to marriages, effectively granting those couples all the benefits of marriage. Further, the State of North Carolina will now honor these converted unions as marriages through full faith and credit, allowing for many out of state civil unions to enjoy the same benefits as marriage within our State. Such benefits are enjoyed under many areas of law including estate planning, health care, tax, property, family law, etc.
If you live in North Carolina, are in a domestic partnership or civil union, and are curious of the legal effects of the same, please contact The Twiford Law Firm today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced, highly qualified family law attorneys.