California Expands Definition of Domestic Partner, Dropping Age 62 Requirement for Opposite-Sex Couples

On July 30, 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 30 into law, altering the definition of domestic partners that can apply for a registered domestic partnership in the state of California. California has recognized domestic partnerships since 2000. However, the law only allowed opposite-sex couples to register as domestic partners if one of the partners was 62 or older.

CA AB 30 essentially removes the age 62 requirement for opposite-sex couples. The change now brings parity to the law giving opposite-sex couples an alternative to marriage.

Employers must take note of the change as plan materials and current practices may need to be updated.

When: Effective 7/30/19, but the state must update its domestic partnership forms for these changes to take full effect.

Who does this affect: Fully insured employers with plans written in California that currently only recognize opposite sex domestic partners when one of the partners is at least age 62 (as long as they meet the other requirements under the law).

Next steps: For affected employers, all plan materials and communications must be updated including Plan Documents, Summary Plan Descriptions, Benefit Brochures, Employee Handbooks, and other documents describing domestic partnership eligibility. If current materials do not mention the age 62 requirement for opposite-sex couples, it is unlikely those materials will need to be updated.

Action needed:

  • Affected employers will need to update all plan materials to remove the age 62 language, if applicable.
  • Employer personnel administering the group health plan(s) should be aware of the new expanded definition to ensure that plan eligibility is administered correctly.

**The State has not yet updated their certification forms for a registered domestic partnership. This means a couple cannot technically apply for a registered domestic partnership under the expanded laws just yet. Information as to when the State will release the updated forms is not yet available.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.



About Michelle Cammayo

Michelle Cammayo has more than 13 years of Employee Benefits experience specializing in all lines of health and welfare benefits. Today, Michelle works closely with clients and partners to provide guidance in areas of the law including ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA, FMLA and PPACA. She also oversees the Compliance Department at Bolton & Company to ensure we are helping our clients manage and eliminate risk with regards to employee benefit compliance.

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