Many states including Rhode Island have allowed for the development and civil recognition of various forms of relationships between residents for purposes of asset and debt division, medical care decision making and information access, insurance coverage, as well as for tax and other purposes. In addition to standard marriages, the state of Rhode Island also recognizes domestic partnerships, as well as some forms of what is known as “common law marriage”
Couples and families who are living their lives together have many reasons for wanting their relationship to be recognized by the state. A married couple enjoys automatic rights that can be more difficult for unmarried partners to enjoy. Married couples are able to purchase health insurance for their spouses through their employers. Additionally, spouses are entitled to certain disability, pension, and other benefits earned by their spouse. Until the legalization of same-sex marriage nationally in 2015, same-sex couples in Rhode Island were unable to get legally married and were forced to rely on a domestic partnership application. Although marriage is now permitted for same-sex couples, domestic partnerships remain an option for same-sex or intersex couples who desire the benefits of a legally recognized relationship without getting married.
In 2001 the State of Rhode Island changed the law to make domestic partnership benefits available to state employees, by treating domestic partners as a dependent under state law. Under this law, domestic partners are able to share employer-run health insurance benefits, as well as retirement and other benefits. To qualify for such a domestic partnership, the employee partner must submit an affidavit to their employer stating that they are unmarried adult partners who have lived together for at least a year and have interdependent finances, as demonstrated by submitting evidence of shared finances. Although private and municipal employers are not required to recognize domestic partnerships in the same manner as the state, many choose to do so.
Contact a Rhode Island Family Law Firm for Help Answering Your Questions
Since becoming legal in 2015, same-sex marriage in Rhode Island entitles all couples equally to marriage benefits. Some couples may not wish to get married, however, and still can qualify as a domestic partnership. If you and your partner are considering marriage or domestic partnership and have questions about what that may entail, the qualified Rhode Island family law attorneys from Bilodeau Capalbo can give you valuable advice. Our experienced Rhode Island family lawyers understand how state and federal law intersect when it comes to marriage rights, and we can assist our clients with applying for domestic partnership benefits. The full-service family law firm of Bilodeau Capalbo represents clients statewide in all types of family cases, including divorces, custody, and adoption claims. Call us at 401-300-4055 to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation with a qualified Rhode Island family law attorney.