New York Domestic Partnership Laws

Domestic partnerships are legal unions of two individuals that grant some of the same rights available to married couples, such as time off to care for a partner, but appealing to unique situations. For instance, same-sex couples in states that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples (prior to Obergefell v. Hodges) often registered as domestic partners in order to enjoy certain benefits of marriage. But in states that continue to offer the option of domestic partnership, it may be appealing to people for any number of reasons, like non-romantic partners who rely on one another's companionship and financial assets.

Qualifications for domestic partnerships vary by state and not all states offer this arrangement, although some cities and counties may offer this option even if it's not provided by their state. In New York, those seeking a domestic partnership must meet qualifications that are very similar to those for marriage.

New York Domestic Partnership Laws at a Glance

Entering into a domestic partnership is a major life event and you should fully understand what you're getting into before signing on the dotted line. That is why we have provided a plain English summary of eligibility requirements, registration steps, and other vital information in the following chart.

Statutes

  • New York Consolidated Laws PBH § 2961
  • New York City Administrative Code § 3-241 (navigate to code section from index)

Statutory Definition of Domestic Partner

In New York State, a "domestic partner" is a person who, with respect to another person:

  1. Has entered into a domestic partnership (in accordance with U.S., state, local, or foreign law) or is registered as a domestic partner with any registry maintained by one of the partner's employers; or
  2. Is formally named as the beneficiary or covered person under the other person's employment benefits or health insurance; or
  3. Is dependent or mutually interdependent on the other person for support (such as common ownership of housing or property, shared income, children in common, etc.).

Requirements for Entering Into a Domestic Partnership

  1. Both partners must be residents of county or city in which you're applying;*
  2. Both partners must be 18 or older;
  3. Neither partner is married or related by blood;
  4. Applicants are in a close and committed personal relationship, live together, and have been living together continuously for 6 months; and
  5. Neither partner was in another domestic partnership within the preceding 6 months.

*For applicants in New York City, Rockland County, and Suffolk County, one partner may be an employee of a company based in that jurisdiction (rather than a resident); non-residents may apply in Albany, Ithica, and Rochester.

Domestic Partnership Application Procedures

  1. Complete an Affidavit - This is a form declaring that you meet the legal requirements to enter into a domestic partnership. Each county or city clerk's office has its own format and procedure (for example, applicants in Westchester County may download a copy of the affidavit, while New York City applicants may file their affidavits online).
  2. Appear at Clerk's Office in Person - Similar to marriage license applications, both partners must be physically present at the clerk's office to apply (with a valid form of ID and either a credit card or money order with the appropriate fee, $35 on average).
  3. Sign the Application - After both partners sign the application, the clerk's office will notarized it; the clerk will then present you with a Certificate of Domestic Partnership.

Rights of Domestic Partners

The rights of domestic partners include the following:

  • Family leave for bereavement and child care
  • Visitation in New York City-operating hospitals, prisons, and other institutions (for those registered in NYC)
  • Addition to a rental agreement as a family member;
  • Eligibility for health benefits provided by certain cities (including New York City, Albany, Rochester, and Ithaca)
  • Eligibility for health insurance, life insurance, death benefits, and other such benefits typically available to married couples

Note: Your domestic partnership certificate is legal proof of your relationship and is adequate documentation when applying for certain benefits.

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

New York Domestic Partnership Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Domestic Partnership

At first glance, getting a domestic partnership in New York State seems relatively straightforward. But, of course, everyone's situation is a little different and you may have important legal questions specific to your situation. If you're in doubt in any way, an experienced New York family law attorney can help you make the right decisions and avoid legal pitfalls.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.