Georgia Domestic Partnership Laws

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Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2015, same-sex couples could get married in just a handful of states that allowed it. In other states and municipalities, same-sex couples were able to obtain some of the benefits and protections of marriage afforded under domestic partnerships. Some states ended domestic partnerships after the ruling, but others have retained them. It's important to keep in mind, however, that domestic partnerships serve many different types of couples who (for various reasons) don't want to get married.

In Georgia, the city of Atlanta, the joint government of Athens-Clarke Counties, and Fulton County (where Atlanta is located) all provide domestic partnerships to varying degrees. Eligibility and processes differ, but they generally allow you to:

  • Add your partner to your employer benefits (such as health insurance, etc.);
  • Designate your partner as the health care decider in the event you're unable to do so (such as in an emergency or if you've lost consciousness); and
  • Receive jail benefits and visitation.

Georgia Domestic Partnership Law at a Glance

Domestic partnerships involve serious commitments, not unlike marriage, and should be entered into with a full understanding of the obligations involved. The following "plain English" explanation of Atlanta's domestic partnership law (with information about Athens-Clarke County and Fulton County domestic partnership laws) will help you understand the requirements and processes involved.

Laws & Ordinances

  • Atlanta, Georgia Code of Ordinances: Section 94-131, et seq.
  • Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County: Section 1-23-1, et seq.
  • Fulton County: (no statutory guidelines provided)

Requirements for a Valid Domestic Partnership in Atlanta

In the City of Atlanta, a domestic partnership can cover two people who live together in the mutual interdependence of a single home and who have signed a declaration of domestic partnership, attesting that:

  1. They share a primary residence and have done so for the past 6 months (documentation verifying joint residency is required);
  2. They have a committed personal relationship with each other that is mutually interdependent and intended to be lifelong;
  3. They agree to be jointly obligated and responsible for the necessities of life for each other;
  4. They are not married to, nor legally separated from, anyone;
  5. They are at least 18 years of age;
  6. They are competent to enter into a contract;
  7. They are not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the state;
  8. They are each other's sole domestic partner;
  9. They agree to file a termination of domestic partnership within 30 days if any of the facts set out in this definition change; and
  10. Any prior domestic partnerships involving a 3rd party have been terminated at least 6 months prior to the date of the current declaration (no waiting period if termination was the result of a partner's death).

Note: Applicants who are employees of the City of Atlanta (but live outside of city limits) also are eligible.

Legal Definition of "Live Together" (Atlanta)

To live together, for the purposes of qualifying for a domestic partnership, two people must share the same "primary, regular, and permanent" residence.

If one partner leaves the shared residence for up to 1 year, intending to return, they still officially live together.

Whether the relationship is sexual in nature is irrelevant to the eligibility of the domestic partnership.

Legal Definition of "Necessities of Life" (Atlanta)

With respect to domestic partnerships in Atlanta, the necessities of life include costs associated with:

  • Food;
  • Shelter;
  • Clothing; and
  • Medical Care.

Note: Individuals are not required to contribute equally to these costs, as long as they agree they're both responsible for them.

Requirements for Domestic Partnership: Athens-Clarke County & Fulton County

Athens-Clarke

  • Must be residents of the county or have at least 1 partner who is employed by the county.
  • Open to couples regardless of their sexual orientation.

Fulton County

  • Must be residents of the county or have at least 1 partner who is employed by the county.
  • Limited to same-sex couples.

How to Obtain a Domestic Partnership

Atlanta

Partners may file a declaration with the Atlanta business license office by providing proof of residence (i.e. driver's license, utility bill, or state I.D. card). The declaration form will be provided on site.

Athens-Clarke Counties

Partners may file a declaration with the Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court by providing proof of residence (i.e. driver's license, utility bill, or state I.D. card). The declaration form will be provided on site.

Fulton County

No specific application processes are provided. Contact the Fulton County Clerk to the Board of Commissions for details (404-330-6030).

Note: Filing fees may apply.

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.

Research the Law

Georgia Domestic Partnership Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Domestic Partnership

Domestic partnerships are similar to marriages in the application and recording process, which means you likely won't need the help of a lawyer. However, every situation is different and you may have questions specific to your situation. If you need help with your Atlanta domestic partnership, reach out to a Georgia family law attorney today.

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