A legal union in which a couple decides to live under the same roof but without getting married – whether they are heterosexual or same-sex couples – is called “domestic partnership.”
Although they do not have a legal marriage certificate, these couples can draw up a document that describes the legal rights and responsibilities of each of them. In fact, some counties in the state of Texas accept the presentation of these documents from couples and even maintain a registry of them.
These documents are essential for different reasons.
Although these couples do not have some of the benefits that married couples have – such as property protections – these documents can be used by their employers when granting some employment benefits. For this reason, it is so important to have them and that the responsibilities of each member of the couple in terms of debts, assets, etc., are defined in advance.
For all families and couples – regardless of sex – it is essential to have a will and power of attorney, which establishes the decisions that the other person can make in the event of death, accidents, medical decisions, etc.
This may come to represent the protection of the surviving family or partner and the protection of the children. It is always important to make decisions and discuss them before any eventuality can occur. Even with equal legal marriage, estate planning is vital for naming guardians, trusts, property management, etc.
In the absence of a will or a document of this type, and in the event of death, state law will make this type of decision and designate a person to perform these functions.
In addition to this, for those same-sex couples who would like to legalize their status outside of marriage officially, there are the options of domestic or civil unions.