When the negligence or misconduct of a person causes another's death this may give rise to a claim for wrongful death. The death can be caused accidentally or even be the result of murder. But only certain people with strictly defined relationships to the deceased can lawfully make a claim for wrongful death.
California Civil Code § 377.60 describes which of the decedent's survivors may make the claim for a wrongful death. Such lawful claimants may include:
"The decedent's surviving spouse, domestic partner, children, and issue of deceased children, or, if there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by ... succession."The code also allows for persons who had a good faith belief that they were married to the decedent even if the marriage was technically void. Finally, the law allows claims by minors "who if, at the time of the decedent's death, [. . .] resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent's household and [were] dependent on the decedent for one-half or more of [their] support."
Under California Family § 297 domestic partners are defined as follows:
"Domestic partners and partnership; establishment:
1. Domestic partners are two adults who have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.
2. A domestic partnership shall be established in California when both persons file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State pursuant to this division, and, at the time of filing, all of the following requirements are met:
1. Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of another domestic partnership with someone else that has not been terminated, dissolved, or adjudged a nullity.
2. The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in this state.
3. Both persons are at least 18 years of age, except as provided in Section 297.1.
4. Either of the following:
1. Both persons are members of the same sex. 2. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, persons of opposite sexes may not constitute a domestic partnership unless one or both of the persons are over 62 years of age.
3. Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership."