Washington Domestic Partnership Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Prior to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that granted same-sex marriage rights in all states, a domestic partnership (a legalized union for unmarried cohabitating couples) was often used to provide benefits to same-sex couples that weren't available to them because marriage wasn't an option. For instance, King County resident employees' benefits were extended to their domestic partners when same-sex marriage was prohibited in Washington. However, many state domestic partnership laws evolved after the legality of same-sex marriage.

Washington Domestic Partnership Laws at a Glance

When conducting legal research, it's critical to read and understand the relevant statutes. However, statutes can take a long time to decipher since they're often written in complicated legalese. Reading content that is jargon-free and written in plain language often helps to better understand the law. The chart below does just that as it provides a summarized overview of Washington's domestic partnership laws.

Statutes

Washington Revised Code:

  • Section 26.60.030 (requirements)
  • Section 26.60.090 (reciprocity)
  • Section 26.60.100 (application for marriage/dissolution of partnership by marriage)

Requirements

 

To establish a domestic partnership, both individuals must satisfy the following requirements:

  • They share a common residence;
  • They are at least 18 years old and at least one of the individuals is 62 years of old or older;
  • Neither is married to someone other than the party to the domestic partnership and neither is in a state registered domestic partnership with another person;
  • Both are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership with another person;
  • The individuals aren't nearer of kin to each other than second cousins; and
  • Neither is a sibling, child, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew to the other person.

Reciprocity

If a couple is in a legal union (other than marriage) that was validly formed in another jurisdiction that is substantially equivalent to the Washington State domestic partnership definition, then the union is recognized in Washington even if it isn't referred to as a "domestic partnership."

Dissolution of Domestic Partnership; Merger to Marriage

Partners in a state-registered (not city or county) domestic partnerships may apply for and receive a marriage license and have the partnership converted to marriage. This is valid if the following conditions exist:

  • The parties are eligible to marry; and
  • The parties to the marriage are the same as the parties to the state registered domestic partnership.

Dissolution

A state registered domestic partnership is dissolved by marriage of the same parties to each other, as of the date of the marriage.

Merger to Marriage

Any state registered domestic partnership where the parties are of the same sex and neither party is 62 years or older that hasn't been dissolved or converted into marriage by June 30, 2014 is automatically merged into marriage.

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.

Washington Domestic Partnership Laws: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney About Washington's Domestic Partnership Laws

The domestic partnership laws in Washington cover a lot of legal territory and might not be clear when it comes to your specific situation. If you need clarification about how these laws impact you and your loved ones, talk to a Washington family law attorney right away.

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