Registration and Termination of Same-Sex Domestic Partnership


The University of Pennsylvania extends same-sex domestic partner benefits to staff in a University-recognized same-sex domestic partnership. Same-sex domestic partner benefits are equivalent to spousal and dependent benefits. Refer to individual benefits policies for eligibility information and benefit descriptions.

A same-sex domestic partnership is recognized by the University when: 1) the relationship meets the definition of a same-sex domestic partnership and 2) the staff member and the same-sex partner have completed the University's central registration process for a same-sex domestic partnership.


There are two ways to satisfy the University’s definition of a domestic partnership:

  1. Legal status: A City of Philadelphia Life Partnership Agreement, New Jersey Civil Union, New York City Certificate of Domestic Partnership, or other certificate of marriage, domestic partnership registration, civil union or the equivalent issued by a foreign country, or a state, municipality, territory or enclave of the United States.
  2. Committed relationship: Two individuals of the same gender who have a committed relationship of indefinite duration with mutual obligations akin to those of marriage which include financial responsibility for each other. The partners must reside together and intend to do so for an indefinite period of time. Both partners must be at least 18 years of age and not related by blood to a degree that would bar marriage in their state of residence. Neither partner may be married and each must be the sole domestic partner of the other.


  1. The staff member and his/her same-sex domestic partner complete and sign an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership in the presence of a University benefits specialist or a notary public.
  2. The staff member must provide the benefits specialist with either proof of legal status or three of the following documents demonstrating the staff member's and partner's joint responsibility and shared financial obligations. Original documents must be submitted:

    1. Joint mortgage or lease (original documents submitted for review),
    2. Designation of domestic partner as primary beneficiary in employee's will or identified in will as partner (subject to review by University legal counsel),
    3. Durable property and health care powers of attorney (subject to review by University legal counsel), or
    4. Joint ownership of an automobile, joint bank account, or joint credit account (original documents must be submitted for review)
  3. The benefits specialist reviews documents to determine adherence to criteria stated above. If the benefits specialist determines that the documents meet the above criteria, the benefits specialist signs the affidavit registering the partnership with the University.
  4. Copies of the submitted documents are made and maintained with the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership. A copy of the affidavit of domestic partnership is given to the staff member.
  5. The benefits specialist gives a domestic partner approval form to the employee. The form allows the same-sex domestic partner to confidentially obtain a spouse/same-sex domestic partner guest card from the Penn I.D. Center.

    Note: The spouse/same-sex domestic partner Penn Guest Card provides access to benefits such as recreation and library facilities. These benefits are not administered through the Division of Human Resources. Please contact the appropriate offices for more information.


All of our faculty and staff currently pay for healthcare coverage on a pre-tax basis. However, federal and Pennsylvania state tax codes do not recognize domestic partners as dependents for tax purposes. That means if you are covering a domestic partner under Penn’s benefit plans, you pay taxes on the value of the benefit extended to your partner.

To help offset these taxes, Penn will provide up to $125 per month (minus applicable taxes) to faculty and staff covering same-sex domestic partners under our medical plans as of July 1, 2012. These employees will receive up to $125 per month—up to a maximum of $1,500 per year—as additional taxable income in their paychecks beginning in late July.

Employees not currently covering domestic partners under Penn’s medical coverage may add them until June 30, 2012, for coverage effective July 1, 2012. On or after July 1, 2012, employees may add domestic partners in the event of a qualifying life event or during the annual open enrollment period. Keep in mind that if the domestic partners have coverage through another employer, they must check with the employer first to be sure they can drop their coverage.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the tax offset.


  1. A same-sex domestic partnership terminates when:
    1. The marriage, civil union or other legal status of the relationship terminates, or
    2. The staff member and/or same-sex domestic partner decide to terminate the relationship, or
    3. There is a change in the relationship such that it no longer meets one or more of the criteria of the University's definition of a same-sex domestic partnership.

    Example of a relationship that no longer meets the University definition of a same-sex domestic partnership: The staff member and his/her partner remain each other's sole domestic partner; remain in a committed relationship, etc.; however, they no longer reside together in the same residence and/or no longer share joint financial obligations.

  2. The staff member is responsible for notifying the Benefits Office by completing a Statement of Termination of Domestic Partnership within thirty (30) days of the termination of a University-registered same-sex domestic partnership. The notification must conform to the following guidelines to be considered a valid notification by the University:
    1. The staff member submits a completed and signed University Statement of Termination of Domestic Partnership to the Benefits Office within thirty (30) days of the termination of the partnership. (The forms may be obtained from the Benefits Office.)
    2. The staff member provides a copy of the statement to his/her same-sex domestic partner within the same thirty (30) day period.

  3. Failure of the staff member to notify the Benefits Office of the termination of a same-sex domestic partnership in accordance with the above noted guidelines is a violation of University Policy 007 (Fraud). The University reserves the right to take action against a staff member in violation of University Policy 007 (Fraud) up to and including termination of employment.


Policy Number: 716
Effective Date: 05/18/2012
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 716 (07/29/1996, 07/01/1999, 09/22/2010)
Applicability:  All University Staff & Faculty
Policy 007   

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