Domestic Partnership FAQ

The following answers many of the most frequently asked questions about domestic partnership. If you have questions not answered here, please feel free to contact the City Clerks office directly.

What does mutual support mean?

"Mutual Support" means that the domestic partners each contribute in some fashion, not necessarily equally or financially, to the maintenance and support of the domestic partnership.

How to register a domestic partnership?

You may make an official record of a domestic partnership which meets the requirements described above. To do so, you and your partner must come to the City Clerk's Office, first floor, Room 103, Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue. There you will file a Domestic Partner Registration, which both partners must sign under the pains and penalties perjury. The Registration can be amended to add or delete dependents or change the household address.

The fee for registering a domestic partnership with the City Clerk is $35.00. The City Clerk will mail you a Certificate of Domestic Partnership and two wallet-sized cards indicating the existence of the partnership, the names of the domestic partners, and the names of the dependents of the domestic partnership, if any. This record will be a public record, just as a. marriage record is.

What can qualify as a dependent of the domestic partnership?

"Dependent" means a minor who lives within the household of a domestic partnership and is: (1) A biological or adopted child of a domestic partner, or a foster child of a domestic partner, (under some circumstances); or (2) A dependent of a domestic partner, as "dependent" is' defined under Internal Revenue Service regulations; or (3) A ward of a domestic partner as determined in a guardianship proceeding.

What does domestic partnership entitled to under the ordinance?

Hospital Visitation

Persons who have registered their domestic partnership at the office of the City Clerk are entitled to the same visitation rights as a spouse or parent of a patient, and a dependents has the same visitation rights as a patient's child, at the Cambridge City Hospital and all other health care facilities under the City's jurisdiction. This includes hospitals, convalescent facilities, mental health care facilities, and other short and long term care facilities under the City's jurisdiction.

Correctional Facilities Visitation

Domestic partners registered with the City Clerk are entitled to the same visitation rights as a spouse or parent of a partner in custody, and a dependent will have the same . visitation rights afforded to the child of a person in custody, at all correctional facilities under the jurisdiction of the City of Cambridge.

Rights Re: Dependents' Schools

A domestic partner who is also the parent or legal guardian of a child, may, by filing a form at or sending a letter to the child's school to arrange for the parent's domestic partner to have access to the child's records, access to school personnel in matters concerning the child, and access to the child, including the right to remove the child from the school for sickness or family emergency. When a domestic partnership is terminated, as described below, it is the parent's responsibility to notify the school, in writing, of the termination of rights of the former domestic partner.

Does domestic partnership affect employment benefits?

Employees of the City of Cambridge or the Cambridge School Department with domestic partners can receive the following employee benefit which as are provided for employees with spouses.

Sick Leave

Employees will be granted sick leave to care for a domestic partner to the same extent permitted to care for a spouse, and to care for a dependent of a domestic partnership to the same extent permitted to care for a child.

Parental Leave

Employees can take parental leave to take care of a child born to their domestic partner or a newly adopted child to the same extent as a married person. 

Bereavement Leave

Employees will be granted a leave of absence with pay for the death of a domestic partner or family member of a domestic partner to the same extent as for a spouse or family member of a spouse.

How do you qualify for employment benefits?

Employees of the City and School Department must file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership, signed under pains and penalties of perjury, with their, department administrator or Personnel Department. In this declaration, employees agree to promptly notify the City or School Department of any change in their status.

There is no fee. Employees do not have to file a Domestic Partnership Registration form with the City Clerk.

How do you terminate a domestic partnership registration filed with the clerk's office?

A domestic partnership is terminated two ways, by death of a domestic partner, or by voluntary w termination by one or both domestic partners.

Termination by Death of a Partner

The termination of a domestic partnership is effective immediately upon the death of a domestic partner.

Voluntary Termination

Click here to download the Domestic Partnership Termination Form

Department Information

Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk