§ 2-6. Domestic partnerships  


Latest version.
  • (a) Purpose; construction of provisions.

    (1) The board of county commissioners finds that there are many individuals who establish and maintain a significant personal, emotional and economic relationship with another individual. Individuals forming such domestic partnerships often live in a committed relationship. Domestic partners are often denied certain benefits and rights because there is no established system for such relationships to be registered or recognized.

    (2) The provisions of this section shall be liberally construed to promote the public safety, health and general welfare of the residents of the county and to further the general policies and purposes stated herein. However, this section shall not be construed to supersede, alter, affect or contravene any federal, state or county laws or regulations. Nothing in this section shall be construed as recognizing or treating a registered domestic partnership as a marriage.

    (b) Definitions.

    Competent to contract means the two (2) partners are mentally competent to contract.

    Declaration of domestic partnership means a sworn declaration under penalty of perjury, which certifies that said individuals meet the requirements of a registered domestic partnership as provided in subsection (d) of this section.

    Dependent means a person who resides within the household of a registered domestic partnership and is:

    (1) A biological, adopted or foster child of a registered domestic partner; or

    (2) A dependent as defined under IRS regulations; or

    (3) A ward of a registered domestic partnership as determined in a guardianship or other legal proceeding.

    "Domestic partners" means two (2) adults who are parties to a valid domestic relationship and who meet the requisites for a valid domestic partnership relationship as established pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.

    Domestic relationship means a familial relationship, intended to be of indefinite duration, between two (2) individuals characterized by mutual caring and the sharing of a mutual residence.

    Health care facility includes, but is not limited to, hospitals, convalescent facilities, nursing homes, walk-in clinics, doctor's offices, mental health care facilities and other short and long-term facilities located within, or under the jurisdiction of the county.

    Jointly responsible means each domestic partner, mutually agrees to provide for the other partner's basic food, shelter and common necessities of life while the domestic partnership relationship is in effect, but does not require that partners contribute equally to said basic food, shelter and common necessities of life.

    Mutual residence means that the domestic partners share the same residence, and contribute to the cost of maintaining such residence. It is not necessary that the legal right to possess the place of residence be in both names. Domestic partners are not prohibited from owning or renting more than one residence. Temporary relocation of one (1) domestic partner for work, education or military service, does not negate the maintenance of a mutual residence provided the domestic partner intends to return.

    Registered domestic partnership means a committed relationship between two (2) persons who consider themselves to be a member of each other's immediate family and have registered their partnership in accordance with subsection (d) of this section.

    (c) Establishment of domestic partnership registry. There is hereby created in the county a domestic partnership registry, which shall be maintained by the clerk and comptroller's office.

    (d) Registration of a domestic partnership relationship.

    (1) Registration. A valid domestic partnership may be registered by two (2) persons, who maintain a residence in the county, by recording a declaration of domestic partnership with the clerk and comptroller's office, which declaration shall comply with all requirements for establishing such domestic partnership as described herein. Upon payment of any required fees, the clerk and comptroller's office shall file the declaration of domestic partnership and issue a certificate reflecting the registration of the domestic partnership relationship in the county.

    (2) Declaration. A declaration of domestic partnership shall contain the name and address of each domestic partner, the signature of each partner, and each partner shall swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that each partner:

    a. Is at least 18 years old and competent to contract;

    b. Is not married;

    c. Is the sole domestic partner of the other person;

    d. Is not related by blood;

    e. Consents to the domestic partnership relationship without force, duress or fraud;

    f. Agrees to be jointly responsible for each others basic food, shelter, common necessities of life and welfare;

    g. Has not been a member of another domestic partnership for the past year;

    h. Shares his or her primary residence with the other;

    i. Considers himself or herself to be a member of the immediate family of the other partner.

    (3) Documentation. As further evidence of a domestic partnership, the following documents must be presented for review along with the declaration of domestic partnership:

    a. To establish mutual residence: At least one (1) of the following: current copy of mortgage, lease or deed showing both names or copies of current driver's licenses, passports, tax returns, or other government issued photograph identification showing the same address for both partners; and

    b. To establish joint financial responsibility: At least two (2) of the following: current copy of mortgage document, lease or deed showing both names, copy of statement from joint bank account, credit cards with the same account number for both partners, vehicle title showing common ownership, a beneficiary designation form for a retirement plan or life insurance policy signed and completed to the effect that one (1) domestic partner is the beneficiary of the other, wills which designate the other as primary beneficiary.

    (4) Amendment. Any partner to a domestic partnership may file an amendment to the domestic partnership certificate issued by the clerk and comptroller to reflect a change in his or her legal name.

    (e) Termination of domestic partnership.

    (1) Obligation to notify clerk and comptroller. By recording a declaration of domestic partnership, each partner agrees to immediately notify the clerk and comptroller's office, by filing a declaration of termination of domestic partnership, if the terms of the registered domestic partnership are no longer applicable or one (1) of the domestic partners wishes to terminate the domestic partnership.

    (2) Declaration of termination. Either registered domestic partner may terminate a registered domestic partnership by recording a declaration of termination with the clerk and comptroller. The person filing the declaration of termination shall swear and affirm, under penalty of perjury, that:

    a. The registered domestic partnership is to be terminated; and

    b. If the declaration of termination is not signed by both registered domestic partners, then proof of service (copy of declaration and certified or registered mail receipt) shall be required at the time of recording the termination with the clerk and comptroller's office.

    (3) Effective date of termination. The termination shall become effective on the date of recording of the declaration of termination signed by both registered domestic partners, or, if the declaration of termination is not signed by both partners, on the date proof of service is filed with the clerk and comptroller's office.

    (4) Automatic termination. A registered domestic partnership shall automatically terminate in the event that one (1) of the domestic partners dies, marries, enters into a civil union or registered domestic partnership with someone other than his or her registered domestic partner.

    (f) Administration of registry.

    (1) The clerk and comptroller shall collect a fee for recording and administering the declarations of domestic partnership in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00). The cost of recording an amendment or a declaration of termination of domestic partnership shall be twenty dollars ($20.00). The fees may be adjusted as necessary by resolution of the board of county commissioners.

    (2) The clerk and comptroller shall collect a fee in the amount the clerk and comptroller has established pursuant to state public records law for certified copies of the domestic partnership documents, other than the original certificate of domestic partnership initially issued by the clerk and comptroller to the domestic partnership.

    (3) The clerk and comptroller shall keep a computer record of all declarations of domestic partnership, amendments and declarations of terminations of domestic partnership.

    (4) The clerk and comptroller shall identify on the declaration of domestic partnership what types of documents were presented for further documentation. It shall not be necessary for a copy of such documents to be kept on file.

    (5) Upon receipt of a declaration of domestic partnership signed by both domestic partners and the requisite recording fee, the clerk and comptroller shall issue a certificate of domestic partnership.

    (6) The clerk and comptroller shall provide pertinent domestic partnership forms to persons requesting them.

    (f) Rights of registered domestic partnership. To the extent not superseded by federal, state or county laws or ordinances, registered domestic partners shall have the following rights:

    (1) Health care visitation. All health care facilities operating within the county shall allow a registered domestic partner the same visitation rights as a spouse of the patient. If the patient is a dependent of the registered domestic partnership, all health care facilities operating within the county shall allow a registered domestic partner the same visitation rights as a parent if the patient is a dependent of a registered domestic partner. A dependent of a registered domestic partner shall have the same visitation rights as a patient's child.

    (2) Health care decisions. If a patient lacks the capacity to make a health care decision, the patient's registered domestic partner shall have the same authority as a spouse to make a health care decision for the incapacitated party to the extent allowed by F.S. § 765.401. This section pertains to decisions concerning both physical and mental health.

    (3) Funeral/burial decisions. Following the death of a registered domestic partner, the surviving domestic partner shall have the same rights to make decisions and disposition of the decedent's body as a surviving spouse, unless otherwise provided by law. The surviving domestic partner shall retain these rights notwithstanding the automatic termination provision of subsection (e).

    (4) Notification of family members. In any situation providing for mandatory or permissible notification of family members, including, but not limited to, notification of family members in an emergency, or when permission is granted to inmates to contact family members such notification shall include registered domestic partners.

    (5) Pre-need guardian designation. Any person who is registered as a registered domestic partner pursuant to this section shall have the same right as any other individual to be designated as a pre-need guardian pursuant to F.S. § 744.3045, and to serve in such capacity, unless otherwise provided by law. In the event one registered domestic partner becomes incapacitated and has not executed a valid pre-need guardian designation, the other registered domestic partner shall not be denied serving as the plenary guardian of his or her domestic partner or the partner's property, under the provisions of F.S. ch. 744, based solely upon his or her status as the domestic partner of the incapacitated partner.

    (6) Visitation rights at county correctional and juvenile detention facilities. Any person who is a party to a registered domestic partnership, pursuant to this section, shall be entitled to visit his or her domestic partner, or other family member of the domestic partner, who is an inmate at a county correctional facility or juvenile detention facility, upon the same terms and conditions under which visitation is afforded to spouses, children or parents of inmates. Visitation rights provided by this section shall extend to any children of the domestic partners, and the domestic partners of an inmate's parents or children.

    (h) Enforcement. A registered domestic partner may enforce the rights conferred herein by filing a private action against a person or entity in any court of competent jurisdiction for declaratory relief, injunction relief or both.

    (i) Reciprocity. All rights, privileges and benefits extended to registered domestic partnerships registered pursuant to this section shall also be extended to all persons legally partnered in another jurisdiction.

    (j) Applicability. It is hereby provided that this section shall constitute a uniform law applicable in all the unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county, to the extent permitted by the Florida Constitution, Article VIII, Section I.

(Ord. No. 06-002, §§ 1—10, 1-10-06)