SB 30: California Changes its Domestic Partners Definition – Effective January 1, 2020

August 01, 2019

Under California Law, the rights and responsibilities of Registered Domestic Partners are the same as spouses under California law. Existing law defines domestic partners as two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring. A domestic partnership is formed when persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State and, at the time of filing:

  • Neither person was married or in a domestic partnership with someone else;
  • The persons are not related by blood;
  • Both are at least 18 years of age (with exceptions);
  • Both are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership; and
  • Both are members of the same sex or one or both is eligible for social security benefits and over the age of 62.

On July 30, 2019, Governor Newsom signed SB 30 which eliminates the limitations on who may form domestic partnerships, allowing opposite-sex couples under the age of 62 to be eligible to form domestic partnerships.

The new law is effective January 1, 2020. Employers should evaluate whether this change in definition will affect their plans in terms of cost and administration. Moreover, sponsors should review their plan documents to ensure that the definition of Registered Domestic Partner coincides with California law.

Although now out-of-date, sponsors should review the Secretary of State’s website regarding form and formation requirements for Registered Domestic Partners and associated FAQs. These will be updated in the near future. Please see the links below.

Employers should be prepared to respond to questions regarding this new law including the delayed effective date.

Please contact your Keenan Account Manager for questions regarding this Briefing.



Keenan is not a law firm and no opinion, suggestion, or recommendation of the firm or its employees shall constitute legal advice. Clients are advised to consult with their own attorney for a determination of their legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities, including the interpretation of any statute or regulation, or its application to the clients’ business activities.