Difference between domestic partnership and marriage


If you have a stable relationship with your partner, it is logical that you are thinking about marriage. However, today this is not your only option. There is also a stable de facto union. Through the free union you can live with your partner under a legal figure. You can consider living as a common-law couple if you want a more flexible union.

Here we will explain the differences between marriage and cohabitation. In this way you can choose the one that is convenient for you and, of course, for your partner.

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What is a common-law relationship?

The common-law couple is a legal figure that is already contemplated in the civil code of many countries. Through the common-law partner, you can live with your partner in a free association. Without getting married. In order to live as a civil partner, you and your partner must generally go to the registry office in your place of residence.

The procedure can vary depending on where you live. The important thing, however, is that there must be a legal proof that you have made the decision to live as a common-law couple. With this, you will be formalizing a voluntary cohabitation relationship. This relationship must be public.

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As we mentioned, some things will be different depending on where you live. One aspect that can vary is the time you must have been living with your partner to register your free union. In some places you can register as a domestic partner even if you have never lived together. While in others, will require you and your partner to have lived together for a minimum time. This minimum time is usually one year.

What are the differences between marriage and domestic partnership?

Economic differences

As you probably know, getting married involves accepting a marital financial regime. This economic regime can establish different terms. But the most common is that the couple accept that all assets acquired during the marriage belong to both of them. This means that, in case of a separation, the separation of assets will be made in equal parts.

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This is not the case for the common-law couple. There is nothing within the legal figure of the common-law couple that regulates the economy of the union. So, if at some point they decide to separate, there will be no division of property. Unless you and your partner have taken it upon yourself to legally record some financial arrangement.


Both marriage and common-law unions protect the survivor in the event of widowhood. In other words, in both cases the survivor will be entitled to a widow’s pension. Provided that both the survivor and the deceased have fulfilled the legal and economic requirements for this. These requirements vary depending on the location.


It is important to remember that, when faced with any legal process, the law will act to protect the welfare of the children. That is why the procedures regarding children are similar in marriage and in the common-law couple. For example, if a couple decides to separate, an agreement must be reached regarding the children. This agreement should cover issues such as custody, parental rights, support, visitation, among others. A judge may intervene in these decisions if necessary.

The same will occur in the event that a common-law couple with children decides to separate. With the difference that there will not be process of divorce. In this case, the law may also intervene on behalf of the welfare of the minor children.

Interestingly, both common-law couples and married couples can adopt if they wish.

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There are two ways to declare taxes: by person, or jointly. However, members of a common-law couple cannot file a joint tax return. This means that they will have to do it individually. A married couple, however, can file their taxes as a single family unit. This usually means some reduction in tax payments.


The surviving spouse in a marriage is always entitled to inherit the assets of the deceased spouse. In the case of a common-law couple, however, it will depend on the location of the couple. In some places he will have contemplated his rights to inherit, in others not. This is why it is convenient that the members of a common-law couple protect each other through a will.

Now that you know the differences between marriage and cohabitation, tell us what you think is the most convenient option.

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