What Is a Civil Union?

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What Is a Civil Union?

A "civil union" is a type of legal status offered to some couples at the state level. This confers a status that is the same or nearly as equal to that of marriage. At the same time, civil unions are not the same thing as marriages, as there may be technical and cultural differences associated with the two concepts.

Civil unions are often associated with same-sex partnerships. States that offer civil unions include Illinois, Colorado, and Hawaii; many other states are considering adding such statutes to their body of laws.

What Types of Rights Are Associated with Civil Unions?

A couple that has been granted civil union status may enjoy many of the same rights as married couples, such as hospital visitation rights, property rights, access to some employment benefits, and adoption rights. These rights may vary by state.

Note that civil union rights only apply at the state level. Benefits under the federal government such as tax or social security benefits may not be available to couples in a civil union.

What Are Some other Names for Civil Unions?

Some other names for civil unions include:

Again, the exact details and rights associated with such terms may vary by state.

Can a Civil Union Be Dissolved?

Yes- the process for dissolving a civil union is often very similar to the process for divorce. The couple would need to make an official filing with the court in order to have their civil union status terminated. Civil union dissolution can become quite complicated however in certain situations. For instance, if a couple received their civil union in one state, then moved to another one where civil unions aren’t recognized, they may have some difficulties in the process.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Civil Union?

Civil union laws are fairly new and are very different from state to state. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need help with any type of marriage or civil union issue. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice that can help clarify any questions you might have. Your lawyer can also help you out if you need to dissolve a civil union or file for other types of legal issues.

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Last Modified: 03-28-2014 03:15 PM PDT

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