The laws about same sex civil unions are important to understand to know how to end a civil union in New Jersey. In New Jersey, two people of the same sex can enter into a civil union. Before marriage between same sex partners became legal, this was the only way for same sex couples to join their lives together (except for a domestic partnership, which gave them only limited rights). In New Jersey, same sex couples that are in a civil union have the exact same rights and responsibilities as married couples do. If you previously had a domestic partnership with your same sex partner and then enter into a civil union, your domestic partnership automatically terminates. However, when we divorce couples who entered into a domestic partnership and then later a civil union, we always include a termination of the domestic partnership to cover all the bases.

How to End a Civil Union: Civil Partnership Divorce

Divorce in a civil marriage is no different than a divorce for heterosexual couples. An experienced divorce attorney can consult with you on how to end a civil union, help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and begin the process of gathering the necessary information. The best way to be prepared for this consultation is to have the following documents with you:

  •         Recent paystubs (3)
  •         Your most recent Federal and State income tax return
  •         W-2s, K-1s and 1099s
  •         Bonus checks and commission checks, along with your employer’s explanation of how bonuses and commissions are awarded
  •         Documentation of any income you receive that is not from employment, indicating the year-to-date amount you received (this would include interest and dividends; rents from properties you own; distributions from businesses in which you have an interest)
  •         Your most recent retirement statements
  •         Any benefit statement from your current employer showing any benefits you receive such as medical insurance, retirement savings, etc.
  •         If there have been any other actions in any court between you and the other party, list these, including the name and address of the court, the docket number and the disposition of the case
  •         The most recent bank statements for each bank account
  •         The most recent investment statement for each investment account
  •         If you receive stock options or restricted stock, the grant documents or statement from the investment account in which this stock is held
  •         The most recent mortgage and home equity loan statements
  •         Car loan or lease statements
  •         The most recent statement for each credit card on which you are carrying a balance
  •         The declaration page for each of your insurance policies: homeowners, auto, life, umbrella, health
  •         Statements for any life insurance policies with cash value
  •         Records on any valuable collections such as coins, art, weapons, etc.
  •         Documents for any other debts such as tax liens, past due bills, etc.


This may seem like a lot of work to gather in advance, but the more effort you can put into gathering these important documents, the more detailed your lawyer can be with you during your initial consultation on the finer points of how to end your civil union.. Once you retain an attorney, they will ask you to complete a form called a Case Information Statement. This document is a snapshot of the financial circumstances of your civil partnership prior to dissolution. The documents above will help you prepare the Case Information Statement. Your attorney will use the CIS as a basis for negotiation of a settlement with your partner when ending the civil union.

How to End a Civil Union: Negotiate a Settlement

The best course of action when divorcing in a civil marriage is to negotiate a settlement of all issues of the civil union relationship before litigation including custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, and the distribution of assets and debts. If we can reach a settlement out of court, then processing the actual civil union divorce judgment is merely a formality. 

How to End a Civil Union: File a Complaint

If you cannot reach a settlement out of court with your same sex, civil union partner, then we will file for you a complaint to end your civil union, much like a divorce complaint. When clients ask us how to end their civil union, they may or may not be aware that the case can progress from filing the complaint  through the litigation process including the exchange of financial and other information called  discovery, formal settlement conferences required by the court, and then trial as a last resort. Even those same sex couples that enter the litigation process to end their civil union settle their cases without a trial 99% of the time using our lawyers at DeTorres & DeGeorge. 


Call us today to schedule your consultation to discuss how to end a civil union with one of our attorneys. 

Erin D. DeGeorge
Erin D. DeGeorge joined DeTorres & DeGeorge, LLC as partner to the firm in June of 2010. Prior to joining DeTorres & DeGeorge, Erin was associated with the national firm of Fox Rothschild LLP and Cutler, Simeone, Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, LLC...
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