As of April 1, 2018, Wisconsin will no longer offer new applicant Domestic Partnership status in Wisconsin. The Domestic Partnership registry provides some important protections to unmarried
same-sex and opposite-sex couples. When this status was made available almost a decade ago, marriage was not a legal right for all persons. Now, marriage is a legal right in Wisconsin for all persons.
Some of these important protections that domestic partnership status includes are: family medical leave for a sick or dying partner, the ability to obtain health insurance for a partner, hospital visitation rights, application of spousal privilege so a domestic partner cannot be compelled to testify against his or her partner, the right to inherit if a partner dies without a will and the transfer of real estate between partners without taxes.
While this status does not provide the full legal protections that legally married couples are entitled to, it also does not require the same obligations. For example, in the event that a domestic partnership does not work out, there is no official “divorce” process and there is no requirement to share debts, support your partner, etc. This is part of the appeal to obtaining this type of status.
Importantly, couples who have already obtained domestic partnership status in Wisconsin or successfully do so prior to April 1, 2018, will still maintain the rights and benefits associated with this status after the April 1st deadline. If couples are not likely to get married this year, registering for this status before the April 1st deadline may be worth considering.
Should you have any family law related questions, please feel free to contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free ½ hour consultation with one of our attorneys.