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Domestic Partner Registry in Orlando for Gay Couples

Published on May 30, 2013 | By Mark NeJame - Orlando Litigation Attorney; Contributor Vanessa Braeley

Gay pride flag“The City of Orlando values its diversity.” Mayor Buddy Dyer tips his hat to The City Beautiful, which took a leadership role by being the first government in Central Florida to establish a Domestic Partnership Registry. While it continues to be a long road to national recognition of same-sex marriage, states across the country slowly gain ground by allowing domestic partnerships to register with their local government in order to receive some of the benefits usually reserved for married couples. Until same sex marriage becomes legally recognized in Florida, Orlando is proud to offer such a registry to those who meet these requirements.

  1. Each person must be 18 years of age.
  2. Neither person can be currently married under Florida law or a partner in a domestic partnership or civil union with anyone other than the applicant
  3. The parties must not be related
  4. Each person must immediately notify the City Clerk, in writing, if the terms of the Registered Domestic Partnership are no longer applicable or one of the domestic partners wishes to terminate the domestic partnership.
  5. Each person must declare their desire and intent to designate their domestic partner as their healthcare surrogate and as their agent to direct the disposition of their body for funeral and burial.

Both parties must register together, in person, at City Hall, 400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida 30801; the registration fee is $30. There is no specific requirement that the couple be in a same-sex partnership.

What’s important to remember is the purpose of the registry – married couples are afforded rights with respect to one-another that unmarried couples cannot legally enjoy. Often times unmarried partners only realize how important these rights are when it’s too late. For example, let’s imagine Joe and John have lived together for ten years. They are not married, but they own a home together and otherwise operate as each other’s spouses. One day, Joe gets in a car accident and is taken to the hospital – he is unresponsive. Joe has no other family and John is the only one there to oversee his treatment and any other decisions that need to be made. If Joe does not have a living will directing John as his healthcare surrogate (most people do not), then John has no say at all as to what happens to Joe. In fact, the doctors cannot even talk about Joe to John, nor can he visit him while he is in the hospital’s care.

This scenario emphasizes the importance of preparing for these and any other of life’s events ahead of time. Registering as a domestic partnership will ensure that, at a minimum, these rights will be afforded to the couple in the City of Orlando:

  1. Health Care Facility Visitation
  2. Health Care Decisions (mental and physical)
  3. Funeral/burial decisions
  4. Correctional facility visitation rights
  5. Notification of family members (domestic partner to be included as a family member)
  6. Guardian designation in the event of incapacitation
  7. Participation in the education of a dependent of the registered domestic partnership to the extent that a biological parent would enjoy

Today’s modern unmarried couple should be aware of their legal rights with respect to one another. Intestacy statutes (which determine property distribution of a person who dies without a will) only recognize spouses and family members as heirs, and strict privacy laws make it impossible for a person other than a spouse or a family member to gain information or make decisions about a loved one in a healthcare facility. Because of these laws, it is strongly advised hat each person have a current will and a living will. However, registering as a domestic partnership is a quick and easy way to ensure access to some of the rights afforded to married couples.

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