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legal or personal recognition of the committed, marriagelike partnership of a couple. Until the late 20th century the term domestic partnership usually referred to heterosexual couples who lived in a relationship like that of a married couple but who chose not to marry. (After a certain period [often a year] in this relationship, their legal rights and responsibilities were typically defined under statutes bearing on common-law marriage.) The term also was applied to any unmarried couple living together in a committed relationship, irrespective of legal rights or responsibilities