With the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, and subsequently ruling it unconstitutional for any state government to deny same-sex couples the right to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges, many issues have surfaced over the impact these rulings have on the status of civil unions and domestic partnerships in the state of New Jersey.
Effective in 2004, the New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act (DPA) granted certain rights and benefits to couples registered as domestic partners, such as: the right to claim the other partner as a dependent on state tax returns, the right to make health care decisions on behalf of the other and the right to receive certain public employee benefits. Under the original DPA, same-sex couples who were 18 years of age or older and opposite-sex couples who were 62 years of age and older meeting eligibility requirements under the DPA had the right to register as domestic partners.
In 2007, the New Jersey Civil Unions Act took effect establishing “civil unions” for same-sex couples in New Jersey. N.J.S.A. § 37:1-28 et seq. The Act granted same-sex couples the same benefits and protections given to married couples, including equal rights regarding children, divorce, property division and spousal support. The Civil Unions Act also amended the State’s Domestic Partnership Act to require that both same-sex and opposite couples must be age 62 or older to register as Domestic Partners.
Important Differences Exist Between Marriages, Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships
At this point in time, civil unions are not recognized by the federal government which means that a civil union couple is not entitled to the same federal benefits married couples receive. Moreover, domestic partnerships, while still valid, do not afford couples many of the rights and protections afforded either through marriage or a civil union.
If you have previously entered into a civil union or domestic partnership in New Jersey, you do not have to dissolve it prior to getting married as long as you are marrying your current civil union/domestic partner. However, it is important to understand that your civil union or domestic partnership will not automatically convert into marriage – you must obtain a marriage license and engage in a marriage ceremony to receive a marriage certificate in New Jersey.
Questions? The Family Law Attorneys at Einhorn Barbarito Can Help
If you have questions related to alimony claims and cohabitation, we encourage you to discuss your situation with one of the many excellent New Jersey divorce attorneys in our firm. If you have questions about the rights and responsibilities that come with these types of legally recognized relationships you should speak with a knowledgeable attorney skilled in family law matters. The lawyers at Einhorn Barbarito have years of experience assisting same-sex and opposite sex couples throughout the state of New Jersey with all types of family law issues. Contact us today at 973-627-7300 to schedule a consultation with a matrimonial or New Jersey LGBT family lawyer in our Family Law Practice Group.
Family Law Blog
- The New Jersey Divorce Process – Part I
- Do You Want To Change Your Name? Pay Attention To The Details For Success.
- States Take Action To Protect Children From Forced Marriages
- Legal Separation In New Jersey
- Issues That Must Be Considered In A Divorce With A Special Needs Child
- 10 Things You Should Tell Your Divorce Attorney
- Gestational Carrier Agreements Are Now Legal In The State Of New Jersey
- Fact/Fiction In Divorce
- New Laws On Cyber-Harassment
- Cyber Bullying
- Don’t Trust Your Divorce To A ‘Robot’
- Where Are The Grandparents? Raising Their Grandchildren!
- Don’t Let Your Kid Go Off To College Without These Important Documents
- Biology Alone Doesn’t Always Define A Parent
- Alimony Is Not Forever, So Plan Ahead
- There Is Still No Bright-Line Rule To Defining Emancipation
- The O’Reilly Divorce, And The “Factors” Behind Sealing Case Information
- A Groundbreaking Decision Regarding Common-Law Marriage
- What Triggers The Right To A Protective Order?
- Mississippi Domestic Abuse Bill Fails
- Do You Think Enough Time Has Passed And You Want To Review Your Custody Agreement? It May Not Be So Easy To Do
- “Honey, Here Is An Agreement For You To Sign And, If You Do, Then I Will Stay Married To You. Sound Fair Or Not?”
- Will I Have To Pay For College Expenses For My Children Or Not?
- Do I Have To Pay Child Support While My Children Are In College? Maybe.
- What Is A Family? The Legal Definition Of A Family Has Changed.
- Do You Want A Private Divorce Like Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie? Maybe You Can Have One And Maybe You Can’t.
- “Happy Valentine’s Day! Will You Marry Me? And By The Way, Here Is A Prenuptial Agreement To Sign.” Isn’t That Romantic?
- Parents Who Agreed to Emancipate Estranged Daughter Are Entitled To A Hearing After Trial Court “Unemancipates” And Requires College Contribution
- Who Gets The Tickets In The Divorce?
- Cyber-Harassment Added To The Domestic Violence Statute
- Assets “Earned” During A Pre-Marriage Cohabitation Are NOT Subject To Equitable Distribution — But They May Be Distributed Anyway.
- Where Are The Grandparents? Raising Their Grandchildren!
- Divorce vs ‘Divorce From Bed And Board’: Could Nancy O’Dell Obtain A Legal Separation In New Jersey?
- How To Avoid The Hazardous Effects Of Social Media On Divorce
- You Want My Engagement Ring? It’s Mine! No, It’s Mine!
- Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt’s Battle For Custody
- What Was Brad Pitt’s “Safety Plan” And Why Did He Have One?
- Who Gets The World Series Tickets In The Divorce?
- Your Divorce Will Not Look Like That Of Brad Pitt And Angelina Jolie
- Will Tom Cruise Ever See Suri Again?
- Lombardi v. Lombardi: Alimony Awards Should Include A Savings Component For the Formerly Frugal Family
- Divorce Season?
- No Fault Divorce – What Does It Mean?
- Custody Wars – Judicial Tactics
- Divorce Is Traumatic – Don’t Get Caught Unprepared
- Is My Marital Agreement Enforceable?
- A Possible New Avenue Of Relief For Victims of Assault By Non-Family Members
- It’s Not Binding If It Is Not In Writing
- Which Court Decides Custody And Parenting Time Disputes When Parents Live In Separate Countries?
- Domestic Violence Can Happen To Anyone