Domestic Partnership Laws in Arizona
Domestic partnerships tend to confuse the average person as the rules and privileges of these arrangements are relatively unknown. Complicating the matter even more is the fact that the letter of the law pertaining to domestic partnership differs form one state to the next. Though Arizona law always shapes the outcomes of domestic partnership legal conflicts, there are several municipal and city laws pertaining to domestic partnerships that also have the potential to play important roles. Though some measures pertaining to domestic partnerships in Arizona are designed to advance the rights of gay couples, there is also the potential to make the legal status of those in a domestic partnership that much more confusing.
Arizona’s Definition of a Domestic Partner
Domestic partners are unmarried people who share a residence with a sexual partner. Though the majority of domestic partners are couples of the same sex, unmarried straight couples can also be domestic partners. The law in Arizona recognizes the existence of domestic partnerships for certain purposes. As an example, if a hospitalized individual is incapable of communicating with a doctor to make a critically important healthcare decision, the domestic partner can act as a healthcare surrogate.
The Benefits of Domestic Partnerships
The majority of Arizona cities including Tucson and Phoenix recognize domestic partnerships. Most cities in Arizona have registries where partners living together can file a formal declaration of domestic partnership, also referred to as a civil union. Sadly, domestic partners’ rights are still fairly limited. Domestic partners in Arizona have the right to visit a partner in a hospital or another medical facility and function as that individual’s healthcare proxy.
The Downside to Domestic Partnerships
Those involved in a domestic partnership are not provided with the extensive legal privileges and rights enjoyed by married couples in the Grand Canyon state. Though certain Arizona insurance companies provide coverage to domestic partners, the law does not mandate that they do so. The insurance company determines which benefits are provided to those in a domestic partnership. Unfortunately, Arizona insurance companies can completely deny coverage to domestic partners. It is up to the private insurance company as to whether these unique couples can enjoy benefits. The sad truth is the primary benefit of a domestic partner is limited to visiting his or her partner in a medical facility.
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How Domestic Partnerships Differ From Marriage
There are a number of key differences between traditional marriage and domestic partnerships. A married couple’s property is shared as community property while the same cannot be said of completely separate property in domestic partnerships. Traditional marriages provide spouses with inheritance rights to the property of a husband or wife upon passing. Domestic partners are not married so they are not automatically provided with such inheritance rights through intestacy proceedings. It is particularly important to note Arizona law does not dictate maintenance be provided in the form of financial support after the dissolution of a domestic partnership.
What About Civil Unions in Arizona?
Civil unions are fairly similar to domestic partnerships. However, Arizona is not one of the half dozen states that recognize this unique type of union. However, it is important to point out Arizona now allows same-sex marriage. Every single Arizonan is legally permitted to marry, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.