Same-sex and same-gender couples can be officially recognized by the City of Philadelphia as life partners. The benefits include being able to:
- Name your life partner as a dependent to receive health benefits (employer-specific).
- Make your life partner a beneficiary under the City’s retirement plan, if you are a City of Philadelphia employee.
- Transfer property to your life partner without having to pay City real estate transfer tax, if you live in Philadelphia.
If your relationship with your life partner ends, you must notify the City.
Defining life partnership
Life partnership is a long-term committed relationship between two unmarried individuals of the same sex or gender who:
- are residents of the City of Philadelphia; or one of whom is employed in the City, owns real property in the City, owns and operates a business in the City, or is a recipient of or has a vested interest in employee benefits from the City of Philadelphia;
- are at least 18 years old and competent to contract;
- are not related to each other by blood in any way which would prohibit marriage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
- have no other life partner but the other person;
- have not been a member of a different life partnership for the past twelve months unless the prior life partnership ended as a result of the death of the other life partner;
- agree to share the common necessities of life and to be responsible for each other’s common welfare;
- share at least one residence with the other life partner; and
- agree under penalty of law to notify the City of any change in the status of the life partnership.
There is no fee for registration. An optional Certificate of Life Partnership is available for $10.
To have your relationship recognized as a life partnership, you need to register with the City. You must provide supporting documents as evidence of your relationship.
To register, submit a verification statement and proof of two of the following:
- Shared ownership of real property or a common leasehold interest in property
- Shared ownership of a motor vehicle
- Driver’s licenses or other state-issued identification listing a shared address
- Joint bank accounts or credit accounts
- Designation as a beneficiary for life insurance, retirement benefits, or under a partner’s will
- Appointment as attorney-in-fact or agent under a partner’s durable power of attorney or health care power of attorney
You can mail, fax, or deliver your application in person to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
The Curtis Center
601 Walnut Street
Suite 300 South
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Fax: (215) 686-4684
Establishing rights in a life partnership
Life partnership does not provide all of the rights and benefits available to opposite-sex married couples and their dependents/children. For example, your life partner will not automatically have the right to make certain financial and medical decisions for you.
In addition, if either you or your life partner is the biological or legal parent of a minor child, additional steps must be taken to establish the parental rights of the non-biological or nonlegal parent.
In order to obtain these rights, you should consider speaking to a lawyer and taking additional legal steps after you register your life partnership with the City.