The New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act (DPA) is a state law that grants couples certain basic rights, such as the right to make health care decisions and to receive tax exemptions. The law applies only to
How does a couple know if they are eligible to register as domestic partners?
Two individuals that meets all of the requirements below may enter a domestic partnership under New Jersey law:
Where can I register for a domestic partnership?
In order to register as domestic partners under the DPA, each person must file an affidavit of domestic partnership with the local registrar of any municipality in New Jersey. A couple does not have to file in the municipality where they reside. The DPA permits the couple to file in the municipality of their choice.
The Department of Health and Senior Services website has a list of local registrars.
What forms do I need to register?
To register as domestic partners, each person must file a form called an affidavit of domestic partnership. This is a sworn statement that sets forth the following information:
All statements in the affidavit must be true. A person who files for a domestic partnership knowing that he or she cannot meet the requirements listed above will be liable for a civil penalty of up to $1,000.
The affidavit of domestic partnership must be completed and signed by both people at the same time in the presence of a notary public. (A notary is a person who is licensed to officially witness the signing of important documents.) To find a notary, call your local registrar’s office or check with local banks—most banks have at least one notary on staff.
Where can I get an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership?
You may obtain an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership from the local registrar of any municipality in New Jersey.
Are there any other required documents?
Yes. You and your partner will need to bring additional documents with you to the office of a local registrar. Those documents include:
Identification issued by a state agency that establishes name, age, and date of birth, such as a driver license, birth certificate, or other state, county, municipal, or military ID card.
Proof of residence in New Jersey, such as:
Only if both individuals reside outside of New Jersey: Proof that either individual is a member of a retirement system administered by the State of New Jersey, such as:
Proof of joint financial responsibility, such as:
Is there a fee to file for a domestic partnership?
Yes. The fee to register for a domestic partnership is $28. There is also a $5 charge for each certified copy of the Certification of Domestic Partnership.
What happens when the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership is completed?
The registrar will stamp each completed Affidavit of Domestic Partnership with the date that it is received and the name of the registration district in which it is filed. He or she will then give two copies of the stamped Affidavit of Domestic Partnership to the person or people filing that document.
Next, the registrar will complete a Certificate of Domestic Partnership (CDP) with the domestic partners’ relevant information and the date that the domestic partnership was established. When this is done, the registrar will give to the domestic partners two copies of the CDP and two copies of a Notice of the Rights and Obligations of Domestic Partners.
The registrar is then responsible for making certain that copies of the CDP are prepared and recorded in both the local registrar’s and the state registrar’s records.
What are the responsibilities of registered domestic partners to each other?
Each partner has the duty to be responsible for the basic living expenses of the other while the domestic partnership is still ongoing.
Domestic partners can agree to be responsible for each other in additional ways that are beyond what is required by the DPA. In order to be clear about these responsibilities, they should be written into a contract and signed by both parties. For instance, domestic partners can agree that, if they separate and terminate their partnership, they will split all of the partnership property and debts equally. Or they can decide that a partner who has been working will be responsible to pay support to a partner who remained at home taking care of children.
Palimony – ongoing support after the termination of a domestic partnership – may be available for ongoing support if the domestic partners include such terms in a written agreement or if such an agreement can be implied from the actions of the partners, both during and before the domestic partnership was entered.
What are the rights and benefits of registered domestic partners?
Registered domestic partners have the following rights:
The right to decide about medical treatment and to visit in the hospital
New Jersey state tax benefits
Public employee benefits
If a domestic partner dies without a will, the domestic partner has the same rights of inheritance that a spouse has under the law.
What are the risks to public assistance benefits for registered domestic partners?
Registering as domestic partners also has risks, especially for people with low incomes. Couples who have taken advantage of the fact that they are not counted as married couples for the purposes of public assistance programs may risk those public benefits if they register as domestic partners.
Social Security Retirement
Because one partner agrees to be jointly responsible for another partner when they register for a domestic partnership, the state may consider either partner ineligible for Medicaid because they will now count the income of the other partner. In particular, this may cause problems for opposite-sex couples who are 62 years of age or older and have chosen not to marry in order to maintain Social Security or other benefits, because their combined income or assets may make them ineligible for Medicaid.
Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF)
General Assistance (GA) and food stamps/SNAP
To qualify for GA and food stamps/SNAP, the income of the family unit or eligibility unit must be determined. The definition of a family unit or eligibility unit includes a boyfriend or girlfriend of a child’s parent who lives with the recipient. A domestic partner’s income would automatically be counted as a part of the family or eligibility unit, and this might cause the recipient to be deemed ineligible for GA and food stamps/SNAP.
Other public agencies and private organizations that ask for an income amount before granting benefits may also count the income of both domestic partners. These programs include Charity Care, PAAD, WIC, Head Start, NJ FamilyCare, reduced-cost and free lunch, and child care subsidies. If a couple has a concern about losing benefits from any other programs, they should check with the agency or an attorney before registering as domestic partners.
How is a domestic partnership terminated?
The grounds for terminating (ending) a domestic partnership in New Jersey are the same as those for divorce in New Jersey:
A domestic partnership automatically terminates if the couple enters a marriage or civil union with each other.
The procedure for terminating a domestic partnership in New Jersey is similar to the procedure for divorce. Termination can include issues of child custody, child support, temporary support pending the termination, palimony and division of property and debts.
Are legal partnerships from other states recognized in New Jersey?
Different states have different laws recognizing legal partnerships or unions between people other than marriage. According the an Attorney General Formal Opinion 07-03, If one enters into a domestic partnership, civil union, or reciprocal beneficiary relationship in another state, that partnership will be valid in New Jersey as long as it is valid according to the laws of the state where it was initially created, in much the same way that a marriage that is entered into in a legally valid manner in another state is held to be valid in New Jersey. That opinion states that a legal same-sex marriage from another jurisdiction (such as Canada or Massachusetts) will be recognized as a civil union.
This information last reviewed: Jan 19, 2017