Maine’s domestic partner registration followed in Vermont’s footsteps by offering a lesser legal status than marriage, while affording a couple to be protected without wills, powers of attorney, and relationship agreements.
By offering domestic partnership registration instead of legal marriage — like California, Hawaii, and Vermont — Maine has created an apartheid, with one set of laws pertaining to opposite-sex couples, and another for same-sex couples. [See Marrying Apartheid]
Registrations do not have any legal weight in the Federal sphere, and, to date, only California and New Jersey officially recognizes this kind of status from other states.
[See California: Registration]
[See New Jersey: Domestic Partnership Act]
The new status offers an improved range of protections for same-sex couples who live in Maine. Once signed up, a registered couple can say they are no longer complete “legal strangers” — but have a legal relationship.
The registration status was established in April 2004, and became effective on July 30, 2004.
“Declaration of Domestic Partnership” (form VS DP) is obtained from:
$35 fee (checks payable to “Treasurer, State of Maine”)
For the partnership to be legally registered, a notarized Declaration is sent to the Office of Vital Records, #11 State House Station, 221 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04333-0011.
The registry establishes the partner as next-of-kin for purposes of making funeral or burial arrangements, for inheritance without a will, trust, or other estate planning, and as a guardian when the partner is incapacitated.
- Same-sex or opposite-sex couples who are mentally competent adults
- Not impaired or related in a fashion that would prohibit marriage
- Must have lived together for at least 12 months
- Neither partner is married, or a registered domestic partnership with another person
- “Each domestic partner is the sole domestic partner of the other and expects to remain so.”
However, registration “is not a substitute for a will, a deed, or a partnership agreement.” Also, the law declares that “It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership is NOT the same as a marriage and does not entitle partners to rights other than those for which the registry was intended.”
Registration information can be obtained from the State of Maine Web site:
- A registered domestic partnership is automatically terminated by the marriage of either registered domestic partner.
- Termination by Mutual Consent - immediately upon the filing of a “Termination of Domestic Partnership by Mutual Consent” (form VS DPMT). Before filing this form with the Office of Vital Records, EACH partner must agree to the termination and indicate their agreement by signing, in
front of a notary public, the termination form. Signatures MUST BE NOTARIZED. This form must be completed prior to registration at the Office of Vital Records. $35 fee.
- Alternate Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership - one partner can terminate the
partnership by using the “Alternate Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership” (form
VS DP AS). The first page is the actual notice that must be completed, photocopied, and then the PHOTOCOPY must be served on the other partner. The ORIGINAL must be filed with the Office of Vital Records along with the original second page entitled “Proof of Service.”
Differences Between Domestic Partner Registration and Legal Marriage
- Simple, notarized form registration
- No ceremony
- Mailed to the Office of Vital Records (handles business affairs)
- Conveys some rights
- Not a true next-of-kin
- Must cohabit
- Ended by mailing a termination form
- License required
- No ceremony required
- License officiated by clergy, court, or justice of the peace
- Conveys hundreds of rights
- A true next-of-kin
- Can live apart
- Divorce laws apply
Federal rights NOT Covered by Registration
- Immigration Rights — Ability for a non-U.S. spouse to become a full citizen.
- Social Security — Ability to collect benefits upon death of a spouse.
- Federal Taxes — No joint filing. Pay taxes on job benefits.
- More than 1,138 laws that are triggered by legal marriage [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married]
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)