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Difference Between Marriage and Domestic Partnership

Marriage vs Domestic Partnership

Domestic partnership and marriage fall under family law, and both are a status given to couples. Though there are more differences than similarities between the two concepts, both terms are often most connected within the law and personal relationship of couples.

The first and foremost difference between a domestic partnership and a marriage is the created perception of both concepts. A domestic partnership is seen as a legal remedy for couples who wish to live and lead a domestic life together without the status of marriage. Marriage, on the other hand, is not just a legal contract but also a social position wherein the couple promises to cohabitate with each other and create families with the blessing of the Church and the State.

In this sense, marriage is the ultimate goal of a domestic partnership but without the obligations and commitment that is unique between married people.

In terms of definition, a domestic partnership provides a shaky and varied definition because each state or region has a different perspective of its nature. Marriage, on the other hand, has a more concrete, defined, and universal description of its condition recognized by every state, region, society, or country.

When it comes to the participants of both conditions, most people who enter marriage are heterosexual couples who are of legal age and citizens of the country. The same couples can also enter a domestic partnership. There are a few quirks in this department – most heterosexual couples who enter this relationship should have a partner who is 60-62 years old and older. Domestic partnerships are also a legal way for same-sex couples to be recognized as a couple.

People in a domestic partnership only enjoy a few of the rights, privileges, and benefits that a married couple enjoys. Some domestic partners are ineligible for their partner’s benefits like employment, inheritance, medical extension, financial status, immigration, adoption, visitation rights, taxes, educational, legal, property, Social Security, veterans, and pensions, among others. Partners are also not allowed to make decisions for their partner’s well-being in instances of medical emergency or legal representation. On the other hand, a spouse is automatically entitled to these benefits, rights, and privileges.

A marriage is also often recognized socially and legally by all the states and other countries while a domestic partnership is only recognized by the state that carries the record and other states that enforce the same domestic partnership law. Domestic partnerships also do not have and enjoy federal protection and recognition.

Other major discrepancies between marriage and domestic partnerships lie on the concepts’ intrinsic characteristics. Marriage represents stability, security, continuity, commitment, and the union between the couple. In domestic partnerships there are no guarantees on the three aforementioned aspects. A partner in a domestic relationship can stop the partnership easily by filing a document that states that the couple have separated. This can be done anytime and in any circumstances. In marriage, separation is not easy. The couple would require a legal and sometimes religious proclamation that the marriage was over. This can be preceded by a divorce or annulment proceedings that will involve judges, lawyers, and a host of other professionals to declare the union null and void.

The same is true for applying for a domestic partnership. An eligible couple can fill out a form and apply for this status. A certificate will be issued as a proof of these proceedings. A couple who wish to get married will have to undertake some tasks such as counseling, seminars, taking out marriage licenses, and other requirements. The couple will finally be officially married by virtue of a ceremony that formally instates them as husband and wife.

Finally, the main difference between marriage and a domestic partnership is history. Marriage has been an institution for centuries and as old as history itself. Only in this century has a domestic partnership evolved due to changing perceptions of people in society. Since marriage has been around for a long time, it is more socially acceptable and recognized compared to domestic partnerships.


1.Domestic partnerships and marriage differ in many respects: perception, definition, participants, scope of rights, benefits and privileges, intrinsic characteristics, and history.
2.Marriage holds the more favorable light in terms of public and social perception. It is seen as a stable and secure condition for a couple while a domestic partnership and its participants are often given with the least recognition and favor.
3.Also, a spouse (in a marriage) has more rights, benefits, and privileges compared to a partner in a domestic partnership.
4.A domestic partnership can be as easily acquired as it can be stopped. In marriage, it will take time and other institutions to declare it null and void.
5.Marriage has a longer record and a more stable stand compared to a domestic partnership.

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  1. Can a person that has a domestic Partnership with someone take there property if they terminate there relationship?

    • Is the partnership hedrosexual? If so its invalid. A domestic partner is for same sex couples. I’m dealing with a similar situation as yours. This female filed one on my dad (unknowingly) making them in a domestic relationship which prevented her from marrying in order to steal everything. 4 million to be exact. I’m addressing this issue with NV state secretary, informing them of this fraudulent relationship asking them to void the partnership and to file charges on this person for misrepresenting this relationship between the two. So check more into it. So Im not sure how to answer your question yet I’m still looking into it.

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