Dissolving a civil union usually follows the same procedures as a divorce, but the legal hurdles can be enormous if a couple leaves the state in which their civil union was granted. However, civil unions are not always recognized, and dissolution may not be possible in a state that does not offer them.

Some states stopped offering civil unions when same-sex marriage became legal. Currently, there are only four states in which a couple can initiate a new civil union, and a fifth state in which older civil unions are still recognized.

Here are the basic rules about dissolution of a civil union in those five states:

New Jersey
Dissolution of a New Jersey civil union is the same as a divorce. The residency requirement in New Jersey is that at least one person in the civil union must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year prior to the application for termination of the union.

The dissolution of a civil union in Illinois follows the same procedure as a divorce in Illinois. So, civil unions formed in the state can be dissolved provided that at least one of the parties is a current resident of the state.

Dissolutions of Hawaii civil unions are treated the same as a divorce and require six months of residency in the state.

The dissolution of civil unions in Colorado follows the same process as divorce due to the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act. One partner in the civil union must be a resident of Colorado for 90 days prior to the dissolution.

If you are a same-sex couple with a Vermont civil union, you may dissolve it through the Vermont family court in a process that is essentially the same as a divorce. In order for a court to dissolve a civil union, one of the parties must have lived in Vermont for a period of one year.

It should be noted that as of 2009, Vermont has ceased issuing civil unions and is now offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples instead. However, Vermont has not converted civil unions into marriages. Despite the fact that Vermont no longer offers civil unions, the state maintains separate procedures for divorces and civil union dissolutions.

What About Dissolution in Other States?

Since most states do not recognize civil unions, it can be difficult to dissolve them in other states. If you live in a state other than the five listed above, you may need to consult a local attorney to see whether or not your civil union is recognized and if there is a procedure to dissolve a civil union formed in another state.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Dissolve my Civil Union?

To successfully dissolve a civil union, you should contact a family lawyer to guide you through the process. An attorney can be especially useful as dissolving a civil union can be confusing and complicated, since civil unions and their dissolution are uncommon.