Marriage is a legal status that is given to a couple by a state government. Regardless of where the marriage is issued, and subject to a few exceptions, it should be recognized by every state and nation around the world. Marriage is desirable because it has several unique rights, protections, and obligations at both the state and federal level for both spouses. Marriage for same-sex couples became legal in 2015, meaning that it is now an option for most couples.
A civil union is a legal status that provides many of the same protections as marriage does to couples. However, these protections are only available at the state level. Federal protections, such as tax breaks and social security benefits, are unavailable to the civilly united. Civil unions are currently only available in Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Colorado. They are also recognized in Vermont.
A domestic partnership is another legal status that gives some of the rights of marriage. Many states have made domestic partnerships available to certain groups of people. Usually, domestic partnerships allow couples to enjoy a list of rights and responsibilities that are limited compared to those granted to couples in a marriage.
There are significant differences between the benefits and responsibilities of marriage and civil unions or domestic partnerships. People who are married usually enjoy more benefits than those in alternative arrangements, including:
There are several options for increasing the number of benefits that are available to couples who cannot (or do not wish) to marry, enter into a civil union, or become domestic partners. These include:
If you are choosing between marriage and another alternative available in your state, like domestic partnership or a civil union, you may wish to consult a family law lawyer. An attorney can explain all your options and help you understand what types of legal strategies are right for you and your family.
Last Modified: 02-28-2018 03:31 AM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.