However, some rights — particularly federal tax advantages — are available only to married couples. In addition, domestic partners may not be entitled to medical and other benefits when their partner works for the federal government.
Same-sex couples who do not wish to marry or register as domestic partners can enter a cohabitation agreement in Nevada. This lets them agree on many — but not all — of the rights available to married couples and domestic partners.
The following chart offers a brief summary of the rights available to same-sex couples in Nevada:
|Marriage||Legal Partners||Cohab. agmt.|
|Financial support (alimony)||X||X||X|
|Inherit w/o will||X||X|
|Sue for wrongful death||X||X*|
|Right not to testify||X||X*|
|Soc. Sec. spousal benefits||X|
|Veteran’s spousal benefits||X|
|Federal health insurance||X|
|Federal pension benefits||X|
|* Nevada law only||all rights optional|
To help you better understand same-sex marriage in Nevada, our Las Vegas family law attorneys, discuss, below:
- 1. Does Nevada recognize same-sex marriage?
- 2. What are the conditions for gay marriage?
- 3. How does same-sex “domestic partnership” work in Nevada?
- 4. Should same-sex couples choose marriage, domestic partnership or cohabitation?
- 5. Can same-sex domestic partners get “divorced” in Nevada?
- 6. Why hire an attorney for a same-sex civil union?
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Nevada since 2012. In Sevcik v. Sandoval, a federal court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment.1
And in 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision, reached the same conclusion in Obergefell v. Hodges. And in 2020, Nevada became the first state to protect same-sex marriage in its state constitution.2
Same-sex marriage is thus fully legal in Nevada even though it is not currently recognized under NRS 122.020, Nevada’s marriage statute. By court decision, however, NRS 122.020 applies to gay marriage in Nevada.
Under NRS 122.020, gay people may marry if they are:
- At least 18 years of age,
- Not nearer of kin than second cousins or cousins of the half blood, and
- Not currently married.
A person 17 years old may marry only if the person has the consent of either parent or legal guardian and the court holds an evidentiary hearing.
Pregnancy alone does not establish that the best interests of such person will be served by marriage.
Chapter 122A of the Nevada Revised Statutes is Nevada’s Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act.
NRS 122A was passed in 2009. It allows two people to enter into a domestic partnership provided that five conditions are met:
- They share a common residence;
- Neither person is married or in a domestic partnership with another person;
- They are not related by blood to a degree that would preclude them from marrying under Nevada law;
- Both parties are at least 18 years of age; and
- Both parties are competent to consent to the partnership.
An eligible same-sex couple entering into a domestic partnership must sign and file a notarized declaration with the Nevada Secretary of State.
Most rights and obligations granted to married couples extend to couples in a domestic partnership in Nevada. Notably, these include
- Nevada community property rights,
- inheritance rights, and
- the right to make medical decisions about one’s partner.
In addition, domestic partners can dissolve their union without going through Nevada divorce proceedings.
Couples can achieve many of the same rights through a cohabitation agreement. But a cohabitation agreement does not confer any rights automatically. Each right must be agreed upon individually. And there is no right of inheritance for couples who live together other than through a will.
Additionally, neither a domestic partnership nor a cohabitation agreement can confer all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Married couples enjoy more favorable treatment under the federal tax code. They can also receive Social Security benefits if their spouse dies or is disabled.
And finally, married couples in Nevada do not need to live together to enjoy the benefits of their relationship. Under a domestic partnership or cohabitation agreement, couples must reside at the same address.
For more information, please see our individual articles on marriage, domestic partnerships and cohabitation agreements.
In Nevada, there are two ways for domestic partners to terminate their partnership.
Although the dissolution of a domestic partnership is not called divorce, partners may follow the divorce procedures provided by statute.
Or if the couple is childless and there are no disputed issues of property ownership or support, they may pay a fee and file a Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership with the Nevada Secretary of State.
Getting married or entering a legally-acknowledged domestic partnership can have a significant impact on the rights of same-sex couples in Nevada.
An experienced Las Vegas LGBTQ rights attorney can help you secure the protections and rights you deserve under Nevada law.
Your Las Vegas family lawyer can also help you decide whether a marriage or domestic partnership is right for you. And if you need a Nevada prenuptial agreement, a lawyer skilled in your practice area can make sure that it accurately reflects your needs.
Need an LGBTQ lawyer in Las Vegas? Call us for help…
If you need help with same-sex marriage or domestic partnership in Las Vegas, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
Our Las Vegas family law attorneys have significant experience with same-sex marriage, domestic partnership and divorce. We can also help you if you are a same-sex couple looking to adopt a child in Nevada.
To speak to a lawyer call us or fill out the form on this page.
- Sevick v. Sandoval, 911 F. Supp. 2d 996 (D. Nev.), reversed and remanded sub nom. Latta v. Otter, 771 F.3d 456 (9th Cir.)
- Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2071 (2015); Associated Press, Nevada becomes first state to protect same-sex marriage in its constitution, LA Times (November 16, 2020).