How can you legally establish a domestic partnership in Michigan?

Understanding Domestic Partnerships in Michigan

In Michigan, a domestic partnership is a legally recognized relationship between two individuals who live together and share a domestic life but are not married to each other. Establishing a domestic partnership can provide couples with some of the legal rights and benefits that are typically associated with marriage. It's important to navigate this process with a clear understanding of the state-specific requirements and procedures.

Legal Framework for Domestic Partnerships

Historically, domestic partnerships were more common before the legalization of same-sex marriage. They provided a means for same-sex couples to attain certain legal recognitions for their relationships. However, since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the necessity for domestic partnerships has decreased. Nonetheless, they remain an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who choose not to marry.

Establishing a Domestic Partnership in Michigan

To establish a domestic partnership in Michigan, couples must generally follow these steps:

It's also worth noting that some employers in Michigan may recognize domestic partnerships for the purpose of extending benefits like health insurance coverage to partners. This usually requires providing proof of the partnership through documentation similar to what is described above.

Legal Considerations

Couples should be aware that the legal protections afforded by a domestic partnership are not as extensive as those granted by marriage. For instance, domestic partners may not have automatic rights of inheritance or spousal support upon separation. Furthermore, if the relationship ends, there might be fewer legal guidelines available to manage the separation process compared to divorce laws.

In light of these limitations, couples may also choose to supplement their domestic partnership with additional legal arrangements such as wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives to ensure their wishes are honored in various circumstances.


In summary, while Michigan does not have a statewide system for registering domestic partnerships, couples can still take steps at the local level to formalize their relationship. It is recommended that couples consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to ensure all legal bases are covered when establishing a domestic partnership in Michigan.