New Jersey Civil Unions for Same-Sex Partners

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Types of Same-Sex Partnerships

There are currently 17 jurisdictions which recognize same-sex marriage. These states are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C.

New Jersey became the 14th jurisdiction to recognize same-sex marriage on October 23, 2013.

A larger number of states have a separate category of legal unions for same-sex couples, which provide some of the basic rights and responsibilities associated with marriage, but they eschew the “marriage” label, calling them “civil unions” or "domestic partnerships. Many states in the U.S. do not legally recognize any form of same-sex union.

New Jersey's Civil Unions

Prior to October 23, 2013, when gay marriage became legal in New Jersey, same-sex residents of the state could only obtain civil unions. During this time, many claimed that New Jersey’s scheme was unequal to marriage. For example, some employers in New Jersey refused to recognize civil unions for the purpose of providing spousal benefits.

Conflict With Federal Law

As with all states that recognize same-sex marriage or some other form of partnership for same-sex couples, the situation in New Jersey is significantly complicated by federal law. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed by President Clinton in 1996, prohibits the federal government from recognizing any form of same-sex partnerships for the purposes of receiving federal benefits. This is significant, since many federal benefits also affect the beneficiary’s spouse. They include social security, veteran’s benefits, and the ability to file joint federal tax returns, among many others. President Obama advocates repealing this law, but as of October of 2009, Congress has yet to act on the issue.

In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional for DOMA to deny same-sex marreid coules the same federal benefits other married couples enjoy.

Do I Need a New Jersey Attorney?

Because of the complications inherent in this issue, if you are in a same-sex relationship in New Jersey, and have any questions about your or your partner’s legal rights, you should contact an experienced New Jersey family law attorney. LegalMatch provides access to many New Jersey Attorneys.

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Last Modified: 11-15-2013 11:33 AM PST

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