A domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two people that provides some, but not all, of the same benefits as a marriage. Domestic partnerships became an option for same-sex and opposite-sex couples after the Domestic Partnership Act was passed by the New Jersey legislature in 2004. When the Civil Union Act of 2007 was passed, domestic partnerships in that state were limited to couples at or over the age of 62.
To register as a domestic partnership in New Jersey, both members of a couple must be at least 62 years old. The couple must share a home together and be unmarried. Domestic partnerships cannot be made up of two people that are related by blood, even if they are distant cousins.
A couple that registers as a domestic partnership in New Jersey may live together. If a couple that is applying for a domestic partnership does not live in New Jersey, at least one of the applicants must be a member of the state retirement system. A person who is applying for a domestic partnership cannot be part of another domestic partnership at the same time. A prior domestic partnership must be terminated at least 180 days before the new one can begin.
An elderly couple may decide to enter into a domestic partnership if they are in a committed relationship and they want to have the right to make medical decisions for each other. Older couples may choose to form domestic partnerships instead of getting married so that their retirement benefits are not compromised. A family law attorney may be able to help a couple to understand how a domestic partnership works and determine whether it is the best option for their situation.