A civil union is a legal status given to same sex couples that typically offers some, if not all, of the same state benefits as traditional marriage. Vermont was the first state in the nation to offer civil unions, but several states have since followed suit.

What Is Required for a Civil Union?

In order to be eligible for a civil union in Vermont, each member of the couple must:

  • Not be a party to another civil union or marriage
  • Be of the same sex
  • Comply with the civil union license requirements of Vermont

In 2009, Vermont offered marriage as a legal option for same-sex couples. Note that if a couple is joined a civil union, they will not automatically be considered married, and must take the proper legal steps to gain that status.

What Does a Civil Union Offer?

In general, a civil union offers a same-sex couple the equivalent benefits, protections, and responsibilities under state law that are granted to spouses in a marriage, including:

  • Support for one another to the same degree and manner as spouses in marriage
  • Joint tenancy and other real property rights
  • Spousal abuse protections
  • State tax status
  • Inheritance rights to property

What Happens If a Civil Union Ends?

The family court of the state will treat the dissolution of a civil union no differently than dissolution of a marriage. The court will follow the same procedures that are involved in this type of engagement, including residency requirements.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Civil Union?

A consultation with a family lawyer who specializes in family law may help you understand whether civil unions or marriage is more appropriate. A lawyer can also explain your rights and help you understand what legal strategy is right for you and your partner.