While the most common way for a couple to legally commit to each other is through marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions are alternatives to marriage. In fact, before same-sex marriage was legalized, domestic partnerships and civil unions were the only options for same-sex couples to be joined legally and in turn receive some of the benefits available to married couples. Although same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike can now get married in every state, entering into a domestic partnership is still an option in some areas throughout the U.S. In Michigan, for example, while there's no statewide recognition of domestic partnerships, there are certain cities and counties where same-sex and opposite-sex couples can register as domestic partners.
Protecting Rights and Property Without Getting Married
For couples who are living together but don't want to get married, and either can't or don't want to enter into a domestic partnership or civil union, there is another option available: a cohabitation agreement. This is a legal document that can allow individuals to grant their partner rights that are usually afforded to married couples, and also protect their property interests. For example, a cohabitation agreement can define how property acquired during the relationship will be treated. This can be especially important if the couple has joint bank accounts or joint property.
While a cohabitation agreement is helpful in protecting your interests while in the relationship and in the event of a breakup, the best way to protect your partner's rights to inherit your property if you die is to make a will. Additionally, if you're concerned about what will happen if you become incapacitated, you can give your partner the right to make financial or health care decisions on your behalf by drafting a financial power of attorney or a health care power of attorney, respectively.
Michigan Domestic Partnership Laws at a Glance
As mentioned above, Michigan doesn't have a state law that authorizes or recognizes domestic partnerships. There are local governments, however, that do recognize domestic partnerships. The table below provides information about the cities and counties in Michigan that recognize domestic partnerships, with links to relevant websites.
No statewide recognition of domestic partnerships in Michigan.
|Local Governments in Michigan that Recognize Domestic Partnerships
The following cities and counties in Michigan recognize domestic partnerships:
|General Qualifications to Register a Domestic Partnership
Each local government will have its own conditions for couples to register as a domestic partnership. Generally, however, domestic partners are two people who are:
- At least 18 years old;
- Not already married or in a domestic partnership with someone else;
- Not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from marrying; and
- In a relationship of mutual support, caring, and commitment.
Michigan Compiled Laws
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Michigan Domestic Partnership Laws: Related Resources
For more information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links below
Have Questions About Domestic Partnerships in Michigan? Talk to a Lawyer
Even though there's no statewide recognition of domestic partnerships in Michigan, there are certain local governments that do recognize these legal relationships. If you'd like to learn more about Michigan domestic partnership laws, or other laws related to domestic relations, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney near you today.