Same-Sex Family Matters

New Jersey first recognized same sex domestic partnerships in 2004 and then in 2007 began recognizing civil unions between two people of the same sex.

The law provides that couples in civil unions have all of the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under state law in New Jersey as spouses in a marriage. Such rights may include those regarding inheritance and probate, sate tax treatment, health insurance and pension benefits, workers’ compensation, adoption, wrongful death claims, family leave and health care directives.

Just like a marriage, a civil union may be dissolved by filing a complaint in the Superior Court. The parties will be afforded the same rights and obligations as in a marriage dissolution proceeding under New Jersey law, including potential alimony and the equitable distribution of property.

In October 2013, same sex marriage became legal in New Jersey. However, this legal amendment did not automatically convert pre-existing civil unions and domestic partnerships into marriage. Couples who had previously entered into domestic partnerships or civil unions must still apply for and obtain a marriage license in order to be legally married. All of the law that apply to traditional marriage also apply to same-sex marriage, including those concerning divorce, equitable distribution of property, child custody rights, child support and alimony.