Civil Union & Domestic Partnership Dissolution & Divorce in New Jersey

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Civil Union & Domestic Partnership Dissolution & Divorce in New Jersey

What is the civil union dissolution law in NJ?

Before we can understand a New Jersey civil union dissolution, we have to understand the laws about same sex civil unions. Under New Jersey’s new law, a civil union is the legally recognized union of two individuals of the same sex. Civil union couples receive legal benefits and protections and are subject to the legal responsibilities provided under New Jersey law to married couples.  Same-sex couples who entered into registered domestic partnerships before the effective date of February 19, 2007 for the new civil union law may remain domestic partners or may enter into a civil union. Entry into a civil union will automatically terminate the domestic partnership.  When you enter into a civil union, your marriage-like relationship is deemed to relate back to the date of the domestic partnership, which may be important for asset distribution and support purposes. The longer you are in the marriage-like relationship, the more assets to distribute may exist and the greater your chance of receiving or paying support.

 

If I live in New Jersey, but my partner and I entered into a same sex civil union in another state, will it be recognized in New Jersey?

Same-sex couple holding hands

The new civil union law provides that your civil union entered into elsewhere will be treated as a valid civil union in New Jersey. A NJ civil union may NOT be recognized however in other states that don’t have civil union laws. There are only 5 states that recognize civil unions: Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and New Jersey.

 

How does a civil union dissolution work?

A civil union dissolution in New Jersey works the same way a marriage is terminated in New Jersey. During a civil union divorce, the same steps and criteria for nullifying or dissolving a marriage apply to a civil union, as do the provisions for alimony, dividing assets and allocating responsibilities for the partners’ children.

 

How does a domestic partnership dissolution work in New Jersey?

New Jersey has had domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples aged 62 or older since 2004. The law was amended in 2007 with the Civil Union Act to require that same-sex or opposite-sex couples must be age 62 or older and meet other eligibility requirements to register as Domestic Partners. The eligibility requirements are:

  •       Both share a common residence.
  •       Both agree to be jointly responsible for each other’s welfare.
  •       Both are 62 years of age or older.
  •       Neither person is in a marriage, domestic partnership, or civil union recognized by New Jersey law.
  •       Neither person has terminated another domestic partnership within the last 180 days prior to filing the current affidavit of domestic partnership. (There is an exception if one partner has died.)
  •       The two people are not legally related to each other by blood, adoption, or marriage closer than the fourth degree of sanguinity. (They cannot be third cousins or closer.)
  •       Both agree to be jointly responsible for each other’s basic living expenses during the domestic partnership, and
  •       Both choose to share each other’s life in a committed relationship of mutual caring.

 

Domestic partners have a duty to be responsible for the basic living expenses of the other party, they have the right to decide about medical treatment of the other party, receive state tax benefits as a dependent of the other party, receive public employee benefits granted to the other party, and have rights of inheritance.

 

To start the process of a domestic partnership divorce in New Jersey, you must file a request for termination with the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey.

To learn more same sex divorce and civil union dissolution in New Jersey, please check out our webinar on Same Sex Marriage & Divorce.

Caitlin DeGuilo Toker
Caitlin DeGuilo Toker joined DeTorres and DeGeorge as an associate attorney in June 2014 and was named a partner of the firm in May 2019.Prior to joining the firm, Caitlin was associated with law firms specializing in the practice of family ...
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