The University of Iowa allows you to insure your domestic partner under various benefit programs. 

What is the difference between Common-Law and Domestic Partnership

A common-law spouse is your legal spouse. The Common-Law Affidavit affirms that you meet common-law marriage requirements in Iowa. Once parties are married, regardless of how their marriage is contracted, they are married and can only be divorced by appropriate means where the divorce is granted.

A domestic partner is not considered your legal spouse. To enroll your domestic partner for coverage, you must meet the criteria outlined in the Declaration of Domestic Partnership Affidavit. 

Available coverage for domestic partners includes:

  • Health 
  • Dental
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
  • Spouse/partner and dependent voluntary term life insurance
  • Voluntary vision insurance

Children of either you or your domestic partner may be insured under any benefit programs, providing they meet the guidelines established by the insurance carrier and the university.

What changes when you add a domestic partner

  • Your family status for benefits will change.
  • If you are classified as an "employee only" for benefits coverage, adding a domestic partner with or without a child(ren) will increase your costs.
  • If you already cover your child(ren), adding your partner’s child(ren) to your coverage will not increase your cost.
  • There will be associated changes in premiums and university contributions when adding a domestic partner with or without dependents.
  • There may be changes in your tax liability.

Costs for adding a domestic partner

There are significant tax implications to be aware of when covering a domestic partner. The difference in cost between a single health insurance policy and the category that you are moving to with a domestic partner (either employee/spouse or family policy) may not be paid with pre-tax dollars unless your partner qualifies as a tax dependent (as defined below).

Also, suppose your domestic partner does not qualify as your tax dependent under federal law. In that case, the portion of the premiums the University pays for your domestic partner's coverage will be included in your gross income, subject to federal income tax withholding and employment taxes. It will be reported on your Form W-2. You may also not claim expenses for the domestic partner under the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plan.

If your domestic partner does qualify as your tax dependent, no portion of the premiums paid by the University will be included in your income or be subject to federal withholding or employment taxes.

Tax Implications

Your same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partner (other than a spouse) can qualify as your tax dependent under Internal Revenue Code Section 152(a) only if:

  • For the entire calendar year in question, they live with you as a member of the household you maintain and occupy and
  • During the calendar year in question, you provide more than half of their total support

Note that you don't need to be able to claim an exemption for your domestic partner on your Form 1040. If your tax year is other than the calendar year, use that year instead.

We will also consider your domestic partner a tax dependent if they meet the above requirements for the first portion of the year, then you marry, and they remain your legal spouse for the remainder of the year.  Please see the Qualifying Person Test under Publication 503 on the IRS website.

To determine whether you provide more than half of your domestic partner’s total support, you must compare the amount of support you provide with the amount of support your domestic partner receives from all sources, including social security, welfare payments, the help you offer and what your domestic partner supplies for themselves. 

Support includes food, shelter, clothing, medical and dental care, education, etc. If you believe you might provide more than half of your partner’s support, you should use the support worksheet in IRS Publication 501 (Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information).

Filing a Declaration of Dependent Domestic Partner (other than a spouse). Please get in touch with your tax advisor before filing an affidavit that your domestic partner is a dependent, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

If your domestic partner qualifies as your tax dependent, you can avoid having the premiums paid by the University treated as taxable income. You must complete and return the Declaration of Domestic Partnership form to avoid taxation. Because determining whether a person is a dependent for tax purposes turns on facts solely within your knowledge, the University of Iowa cannot make this determination for you. 

If the university does not receive a properly completed declaration form from you, we will assume that your domestic partner does not qualify as your tax dependent.

Beginning the Process

To cover a domestic partner, you must file an affidavit of domestic partnership (which is valid for same or opposite-sex partners). You only need to complete this affidavit once, and it will remain in effect until the relationship ends.

  • If the relationship ends, you must notify University Benefits by filing an Affidavit for Termination of Domestic Partnership form.
  •  A new affidavit is required for a new domestic partner relationship.



You and your partner must complete the affidavit and submit it to University Benefits by email to or campus mail to 120 USB.

Upon review and approval of your affidavit, University Benefits will contact you by email with instructions to update your elections in Employee Self-Service.

  • You must submit supporting documentation for anyone you add to your plan (i.e., domestic partner, children). University Benefits will contact you for this information after you submit your elections.

Log in to Employee Self-Service

In the left navigation pane:

  1. Select the "Benefits & Wellness" link
  2. Select the "Benefits" link
  3. Select the "Benefits Enrollment" link.
  4. Choose your OPEN Family Status Change event to begin the enrollment process.

Add partner, dependent(s), and beneficiaries

  1. After entering your open event, please read the main page before selecting the blue button on the right labeled "I agree - View & Update Dependents/Beneficiaries" at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Review your beneficiaries and dependents list. This is where you will add your Domestic Partner's information and any other eligible dependent(s) you want to add to your coverage.
  3. Enter each dependent's personal information, full legal names, birth dates, and social security numbers. Once everything is entered, select the Submit and the "Return to Benefits Enrollment" buttons to continue with your elections. 

Elect your benefits and add dependents to coverage

  1. Select the "OPEN - Edit Your Benefit Elections" link.
  2. Select the other blue button labeled "I agree - Continue to Benefits Enrollment" on the left.
  3. Under Medical, choose your preferred plan by selecting the corresponding option code in the Medical Coverage Selection dropdown box. The option code is the number in the parentheses located to the right of the monthly cost.
    • If your domestic partner and eligible dependent child(ren) are to be added to your medical coverage, select the box next to their name under the "Dependents Not Covered" area.
      • If you do not see your domestic partner or eligible dependent child(ren) under the "Dependents Not Covered" section, you will need to back out of editing your benefit elections and select the blue button on the right side and follow instructions under the 'Add partner, dependent(s), and beneficiaries' section above.
    • If you are removing a dependent from your coverage, uncheck the box next to their name and select the blue "Recalculate" button. You should then see them under the "Dependents Not Covered" section.
  4. Complete the same process for dental insurance, life insurance, voluntary term life insurance, AD&D, and dependent life insurance.
  5. Once all changes have been elected, select the recalculate button to review your selections and submit your elections to University Benefits. Make sure you submit until you get the final confirmation page. 

Emails from University Benefits

After completing your enrollment, You will receive two emails from the Benefits Office.

  1. Benefits Confirmation Statement - Please review this statement carefully in Employee Self-Service. If a correction is needed, follow the steps from your Benefits Confirmation page. You will only have five (5) days from the release date of your statement to request changes.
  2. Dependent Eligibility Verification - Our office will send information about the verification process and document requirements after processing your event. For Domestic Partners, you must supply the documentation corresponding to the eligibility conditions you selected on the Domestic Partner Affidavit. You will have four (4) weeks to upload these documents to Employee Self-Service. 

COBRA Coverage

The University will apply the federal COBRA regulations for your domestic partner. If your domestic partner's insurance is canceled as a result of the termination of your employment, the ending of the domestic partner relationship, or a child of the partner no longer qualifying as a dependent, then the individual who loses the coverage will be eligible to continue the insurance voluntarily through COBRA.

The issue of benefits for your domestic partner is complex. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact University Benefits. All information supplied by you and your domestic partner is kept confidential, and this information is only released to the insurance carrier or parties involved in processing enrollments and deductions.

ABOUT OUR SITE: Our website's information describes only the plans' highlights and does not constitute official plan documents. Additional terms and conditions apply. If there are any discrepancies between the data contained herein and the official plan documents, the plan documents will govern.