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Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Guide for GLBT Singles, Couples and Families (Second Edition)
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Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Guide for GLBT Singles, Couples and Families (Second Edition)

3.5 4
by Brette McWhorter Sember
"This clearly written, comprehensive, accessible guide belongs in the library of all gays and lesbians who are thinking of partnering or who are already partnered.... Learn about domestic arguments, managing joint income and protecting yourself and your significant other financially...buy and read this book."
-Martin Kantor, MD, author of My Guy and Together


"This clearly written, comprehensive, accessible guide belongs in the library of all gays and lesbians who are thinking of partnering or who are already partnered.... Learn about domestic arguments, managing joint income and protecting yourself and your significant other financially...buy and read this book."
-Martin Kantor, MD, author of My Guy and Together Forever

Legal rights for the GLBT community are expanding every year. Cities and states all over the country are passing new legislation that makes it easier than ever before to protect yourself and your relationships. Gay & Lesbian Rights details how you can take advantage of the latest legal advances.

- A brand-new section answers all your questions about the eight states that legally recognize same-sex partnerships.

- A convenient appendix features useful resources such as websites, organizations and hotlines for information and support-including support for GLBT teens.

- Tip boxes highlight how to find the information you need to live your life the way you want.

Gay & Lesbian Rights explains how to stand up for your rights, use the law to your advantage and get the results you need-even in not-so-GLBT-friendly environments.

Use Gay & Lesbian Rights to learn how to:
- formalize your relationship through a civil union or marriage
- register a domestic partnership
- defend yourself against discrimination
- encourage equality in the workplace
- combine finances and households
- obtain health insurance for your family
- adopt or conceive a child
- ensure a safe school environment for your children
- provide for your family with estate planning tools
- end a domestic partnership
- make a difference in your community

Product Details

Publication date:
Gay and Lesbian Rights Series
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Domestic Partnership Agreements

Excerpted from Gay and Lesbian Rights, 2E by Brette McWhorter Sember ©2006

If you live in a state where domestic partnerships, civil unions, or same-sex marriages do not exist or are not recognized, there are steps you can take to formalize your relationship and make certain aspects of it legal. Creating a written contract can be important if you plan to own property, share expenses, and merge your financial lives. While most people do not want to think about relationship problems when they are entering into a committed relationship, difficulties can and do arise, and having a written agreement in place makes sense.

Another important reason to create a partnership agreement is that most employers who make health benefits available to partners require proof of your relationship. If your employer needs this type of document, you may consider executing two separate documents-one that meets your employer's requirements and is signed before a notary, and another for your own purposes, which can contain more personal details. (See Chapter 6 for more information on employer-provided domestic partnership benefits.)

Creating a written contract can also increase your level of trust and comfort. You know your partner cannot just walk out the door someday and leave you with nothing. By signing a contract, you agree to be responsible to each other for certain things and set certain parameters that will affect any possible breakup. Some couples include the signing of a contract as part of the wedding or commitment ceremony.

A sample Domestic Partnership Agreement for your employer appears below.


This agreement is made on __________________ (date) between ________________ and ________________.

1. The parties assert that both are over the age of 18 and are not related to each other by blood.

2. The parties assert that neither is married or engaged in any other domestic partnership agreement.

3. The parties assert that both are mentally capable and competent.

4. The parties assert that they are domestic partners to each other and have been since _____________________ (date).

5. The parties assert that they live together and support each other.

6. The parties assert that they intend to remain together as domestic partners.

7. The parties agree to notify the person/entity to whom this notice is being submitted if there is a change pertaining to it.

_____________________ ____________________ _________
name signature date

_____________________ ____________________ _________
name signature date


What to Include
The partnership or commitment agreement can include anything you like, but you must be aware that only certain portions of it will be legally enforceable, depending on the laws of your state. The following are some examples of the types of things to consider including in your agreement.

Property ownership. There are lots of options when it comes to owning property together. In your agreement, you can state what your intentions are and how you plan to arrange ownership of other types of property. To jointly own bank accounts or investments, you generally need to open a new joint account. When opening the account you can specify that it is to be owned jointly and severally-which means either of you can remove all the money at any time. You can still maintain separate individual accounts.

For vehicles, you need to change the ownership listed on the title (contact your state motor vehicle department). For personal and household property, you can specify in your partnership contract what items are to be jointly owned (for example, you could say that all household furnishings purchased after the date of the contract will be jointly owned). You can create joint ownership in specific items of property if you wish as well. You can also list those items that will continue to be individually owned.

Debts. Your agreement can state whether you intend to own all debts jointly or to designate some that are joint. You can agree how you will share payments on these.

Expenses. You may choose to assign certain household expenses to each of you, or you may agree to equally share all of them or pay them out of a joint account. Your agreement can state that you agree to be jointly responsible for the expenses of the household, and then go on to explain how you will divide these expenses. Some partners apportion this on a 50/50 split, while others assign percentages based on earnings (one partner earns $80,000 and the other earns $20,000, so expenses are shared on an 80/20 split) or create other arrangements.

Pets. It is important to establish pet ownership so that if there is a breakup, you do not have a long emotional battle over custody of your cat, dog, or other pet. Joint ownership is an option, but it might be a good idea to specify who would take the animal in the event of a breakup. Joint ownership means joint responsibility for expenses as well.

Household responsibilities. While household responsibilities are an important aspect of any relationship, they are not legally enforceable (you cannot take your partner to court if he or she does not vacuum). Despite this, it can be helpful for many couples to spell out exactly what each will be responsible for. This can eliminate confusion and later arguments.

Cooling-off period. Some couples choose to include something in their agreement about a period of time they will take after a major fight or what appears to be a breakup. This kind of agreement means you agree to take some time to get past your initial anger and try to face the problem with calmer attitudes. This kind of agreement can also be important in that it provides a sense of security-you know your partner is not going to walk out the door and never come back if you have a big fight. Again, this is not a legally enforceable provision.

Dissolution. Although it is difficult to think about, it makes sense to form some plans for how you would handle a breakup. Agreeing to try couples' therapy might be one provision to include. Agreeing to use mediation or arbitration to help resolve property and debt issues is another. You can also agree that you would each be entitled to one-half of the jointly owned items and each be responsible for one-half of jointly incurred debts. If you are both listed on a mortgage or lease, you might want to consider in advance who would keep the home or apartment and how the other partner would be compensated.

Legal Enforceability
A partnership agreement that contains specific provisions about ownership, debt, and financial responsibilities may be enforceable if it is written as a contract. To be a contract, there has to be complete agreement between the parties and some sort of give and take, which is called consideration. If you agree to pay your partner $500 per month as your share of the utilities and rent, then you receive the consideration of living there and benefiting from the apartment and the utilities.

Many partners create partnership agreements as a way to make it clear how they will arrange things in their lives. They include items they do not intend to be legally binding, but that they believe help to formalize their relationship.

Living with an Agreement
It can be hard to live with a very detailed partnership agreement. One or the other of you will always be pulling it out to look something up, and your lives will be essentially run by it. Try instead to create an agreement that you will not have to think about. Most married heteros do not spend their time thinking about their prenuptial agreements during the course of their marriages-you should not either. The purpose of an agreement is to clear up some legal problems from the beginning, so no one will have to worry about them. The purpose of an agreement should not be to govern your daily life and have you constantly worrying about violating it. It should make things easier for you, not more difficult. Create an agreement if you want one, and then put it behind you. Live your lives together and keep your agreement as a legal safeguard.
A sample Domestic Partnership Agreement is found below.

Modifying Your Agreement
You can modify your agreement at any point. You can do so by:
? creating an addendum (an extra section that clears up some points or changes agreements made in the original agreement);
? writing a new agreement, which, if dated, would supersede the previous one;
? ripping up the old one and creating a new one; or,
? ripping up the old one and doing nothing in place of it.


On ______ (date) __________________ and _____________ agree to the following:

1.We are both over 18 years of age.

2.We are both mentally competent.

3. Neither party is married nor part of another domestic partnership agreement.

4. We have chosen to enter into a domestic partnership arrangement in which we will share our lives and our residence.

5. All property owned by each of us prior to entering this agreement will continue to be owned separately.

6. Any property received as a gift or inherited during our domestic partnership will be solely owned by the person receiving it.

7. Any real property owned by the individual parties will continue to be held separately.

8. Income earned or property jointly acquired during the course of our domestic partnership will be owned by the parties jointly.

9. Debt that is jointly incurred during the course of the partnership shall be owed equally by both parties.

10. Debt that is individually incurred during the course of the partnership shall be the sole responsibility of the party incurring it, but can be paid for out of joint earnings if both parties agree.

11. If the parties separate and end their domestic partnership, each shall continue to own all property he or she came into the partnership with and will continue to own any property received as a gift or inheritance during the term of the partnership. Property that is jointly owned shall be divided equally between the parties.

12. The parties agree to use a mediator if they are unable to agree upon how property should be divided.

13. This agreement may be terminated with two weeks' written notice.

14. If any part of this agreement is determined to be unenforceable or illegal, that portion shall be severable and the rest of the agreement will still be enforced.

This represents the parties' complete understandings and agreements. No other promises, agreements, or representations have been made outside the scope of this agreement.
This agreement shall be governed by the laws of the state of __________.

_____________________________ _________________ ________
name signed date

_____________________________ _________________ ________
name signed date


Meet the Author

Brette McWhorter Sember is a former New York state attorney and skilled mediator. She was on the Law Guardian panel in four counties and acted as a volunteer mediator for the Better Business Bureau. Sember is an expert at explaining and simplifying legal concepts. She has written more than 30 books, including File for Divorce in New York, Tenant's Rights in New York, Landlord's Rights in New York, The Complete Legal Guide to Senior Care, The Complete Credit Repair Kit, The Infertility Answer Book, The Adoption Answer Book, How to Parent with Your Ex, Gay & Lesbian Legal Rights, How to Form a Corporation in New York, Child Custody, Visitation, and Support in New York, Seniors' Rights and many more. Her web site is www.BretteSember.com.

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Gay and Lesbian Rights: A Guide for GLBT Singles, Couples and Families (Second Edition) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is exactly what we need
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
F*** yeah
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey people! I am NOT a lesbian. I have never had sex. I have no experience. Well. Let me get to the point: Can everyone say what they thought about the book, not why you need it Thanks