What Is an ADPA?
Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA) is a professional with training and experience in the domestic partnership laws of their state.
An ADPA is an independent contractor who helps same-sex couples navigate through the legal systems to establish legal recognition of their relationships with one another, as well as provide knowledge about non-legal services such as health insurance or making funeral arrangements.
Domestic Partnership Advisor is not the same as an attorney, nor do they work in place of an attorney. An ADPA can help knowledgeable couples with the legal paperwork to establish their relationship with one another (such as wills) and act as a mediator to help both parties reach agreements about what documents need to be filed with the state.
The costs of hiring an ADPA can vary depending on what services you seek. If you are in need of legal advice, your ADPA should refer you to a licensed attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state so that they may offer better representation than he or she could.
An ADPA can help you determine what your rights are under your state’s laws. If you would like to know if the domestic partnership is right for you, an ADPA can guide you through the legal steps of creating a domestic partnership while giving important information about benefits, filing fees, and the consequences that may come along with creating this type of commitment.
What Is a Domestic Partnership, and How Does It Compare with Marriage?
A domestic partnership is a committed, formal relationship between two adults of any sex or gender.
The general idea behind the creation of domestic partnerships was to allow same-sex couples to form unbreakable unions other than marriage, which has been traditionally reserved for heterosexual couples. Domestic partnerships can be recognized legally by the state, but are often the same as marriages by other institutions.
Some examples of this are domestic partnerships being given the right to file taxes jointly or having insurance benefits for one another.
The Benefits of Hiring an ADPA
An ADPA is an independent contractor, which means that they are not necessarily connected to any law firm or company. A traditional attorney may be associated with a particular credit counseling agency or criminal defense lawyer who both have their own set of fees and charges.
An ADPA does not act as an intermediary between couples and these other firms. If you find that your ADPA has a conflict of interest, they will inform you and may be able to recommend another agency for you to use instead.
An ADPA can save its clients money in several different ways.
They may help their couples save time and money by reducing the amount of paperwork needed for legal recognition, which may be done by simply filling out a document that the ADPA drafts for you.
An ADPA can also help you fill out your legal documents, but he or she will not charge an hourly rate to do so. This is why it is important to make sure what services each person charges for before talking with an ADPA. Some ADPAs only charge a flat fee to file documents with the state, while others may offer other services such as arranging meetings and representing clients in court at an additional cost.
Different Types of Services Your ADPA Can Offer:
1. Domestic Partnership Agreement
Parties enter into domestic partnership agreements to establish their rights and responsibilities upon dissolution of the partnership. Domestic partnership agreements may be a solution to the many issues that arise in a relationship when one member of the couple dies, or if they separate from one another.
2. Estate Planning Documents
An ADPA can draft wills for same-sex couples, adding them as beneficiaries for life insurance policies and retirement accounts in place of a spouse. They can also draft documents to carry out the wishes of their clients in case they become incapacitated.
3. Real Estate Documents
An ADPA can also handle any real estate concerns you may have, including buying and selling land, commercial leases, co-ops, and condominiums for couples in a domestic partnership or civil union.
4. Family Law
A family law ADPA can represent you in matters of adoption, divorce, prenuptial agreement disputes, child custody cases, child support issues, visitation rights, and spousal support.
5. Tax Issues
If you are planning to file taxes jointly or separately as a couple in a domestic partnership or civil union, an ADPA may be able to provide the legal services needed to get the job done.
6. Social Security Benefits
Being in a domestic partnership or civil union may allow you to access certain social security benefits if you are widowed, make eligible for family leave, and can enable you to extend your benefits after retirement.
7. Health Care Coverage
If you are in a domestic partnership or civil union, any health insurance coverage that you have through your employer should also cover your spouse.
8. Immigration Issues
Immigration laws often change, especially when it comes to dealing with same-sex couples. An ADPA can advise you on how to obtain permanent residence status for an immigrant spouse or if you are in an interracial marriage, they may be able to help you negotiate with the government.
All of these documents and services can be handled by one ADPA, which is why hiring one will save you time, money, and stress in the long run. You may even realize that having your own legal documents prepared early on in the relationship will help you avoid some problems and complications further down the road.
The Bottom Line
While some legal work can be done on your own, most people are not trained in the laws surrounding domestic partnerships and do not know where to begin. This is why it is important to talk with an ADPA if you are thinking about getting married or entering into a civil union.
An ADPA will offer consultations with no obligation to their clients. They will outline the process for creating your documents and help you decide if you need to hire one at all.
As stated in the beginning, an ADPA is a person who provides legal services to same-sex domestic partners. They provide all of the same services as other legal professionals, such as drafting documents and representing clients in court.
However, an ADPA may charge less for their services than a traditional lawyer or law firm would because they usually do not charge by the hour. Instead, they charge a flat fee for certain services.
About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®
True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.
True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.