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Domestic Partnerships/Civil Unions

The attorneys of The Simeone Law Group have been at the forefront of the recent changes in New Jersey law affecting domestic partnerships and civil unions. We have seen our state’s laws evolve from the recognition of registered domestic partnerships to full-fledged civil unions. And, we have represented people in Morris County and throughout northern New Jersey in these types of legal matters.

In short, New Jersey’s statute now grants same-sex couples who enter into a civil union the same state-conferred rights and privileges that married heterosexual couples receive. These include rights that apply to divorce.

Equitable Distribution and Other Issues

Although there is not much case law yet, New Jersey amended its equitable distribution statute in February 2007 to cover the dissolution of civil unions as well as divorce. This means that property rights in a civil union are the same as those in a marriage and that in the event of a break-up, courts will be free to divide that property in whatever way is fair and equitable.

Other issues we’ve seen and handled include:

  • Adoption and child custody
  • Visitation
  • Palimony (spousal support)
  • Custody of family pets

As with any new area of the law, change is constant. A big factor to keep in mind is that, for the time being, civil unions and same-sex marriages are not recognized at the federal level because of the Defense of Marriage Act. For domestic partners who’ve entered into a civil union, this means that whatever rights and protections they have in New Jersey do not extend to matters involving federal law.