Domestic partnership attorneys serving Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean Counties and all of NJ
There has been a lot of activity in recent years with regard to the legal rights of same-sex couples in New Jersey. From the recognition of domestic partners in 2004 to the approval of same-sex marriages in 2013, the landscape for gay and lesbian couples has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Attorney Curtis Romanowski and the other family law attorneys at Romanowski Law Offices are some of the most experienced in the state in matters relating to same-sex relationships. We can help you understand your options and enforce your legal rights.
About Domestic Partnerships
The New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act (NJDPA) entitles unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples to certain of the benefits available to married couples in the state. These include protections against discrimination in housing and employment, certain medical rights, and tax benefits.
With the enactment of the New Jersey Civil Union Act (and the subsequent court decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow which officially recognized same-sex marriages in New Jersey), the NJDPA has become somewhat limited in its applicability. However, New Jersey continues to recognize the rights of registered domestic partners, and couples age 62 or older retain the option of entering into a domestic partnership rather than a civil union or marriage.
The requirements for registering as domestic partners in New Jersey include:
- Sharing a common residence in New Jersey, or in another state if at least one of the partners is a member of a New Jersey state-administered retirement system
- Sharing joint responsibility for each other’s welfare
- Agreeing to be jointly responsible for shared living expenses
- Neither partner can be married or party to a civil union or other domestic partnership and neither party can have terminated a domestic partnership in the last 180 days, unless due to the death of the other partner
While not required to do so, couples that have entered into domestic partnerships now have the option to marry or enter into a civil union. For those wishing to end their relationships, terminating a domestic partnership in New Jersey generally follow the same process as a couple filing for divorce. At Romanowski Law Offices, we have years of experience helping both same-sex and opposite-sex couples deal with all matters relating to registered domestic partnerships in New Jersey.
About Civil Unions
In 2006, the landmark court decision of Lewis v. Harris held that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the rights and benefits of marriage. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court stopped short of allowing gay and lesbian couples to officially marry. In response, the legislature adopted the New Jersey Civil Union Act (NJCUA), which became effective in 2007.
Under the NJCUA, a “civil union” is a legally recognized relationship between two individuals of the same sex. Any same-sex partners who are over 18 years old, are not party to another legally recognized relationship (i.e., a domestic partnership, marriage, or other civil union), and not closely related are eligible to enter into a civil union in New Jersey. The process for entering into a civil union is much the same as that for getting married. Similar to domestic partners, parties to a civil union now have the option to marry, and can end their relationship in much the same manner as going through a divorce
Termination of Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions in New Jersey
If it is time to end your relationship, the family lawyers at Romanowski Law Offices can help you take the steps necessary to dissolve your domestic partnership or civil union. We can also help make sure that you receive the property, support, custody, and other rights to which you are legally entitled. We have decades of legal experience, and have helped numerous clients successfully resolve their differences through mediation, arbitration, litigation, and out-of-court settlements.
While the NJDPA and NJCUA only established fault-based grounds for seeking to dissolve a domestic partnership or civil union, with the case of Groh v. Groh, one New Jersey judge has potentially paved the way for terminating domestic partnerships and civil unions based on irreconcilable differences. In the context of marriage, “irreconcilable differences” is the basis for seeking a no-fault divorce. The Groh decision is significant because it can often be difficult to prove the grounds for a fault-based separation. These include:
- Extreme cruelty
If you are in an abusive, unfaithful, or unloving relationship, we can work with you to establish grounds for ending your domestic partnership or civil union.
It is important to note that there are several important differences between domestic partnerships and civil unions when it comes to dissolving the relationship. For example, while parties to a civil union may be entitled to alimony and equitable property distribution, this is not the case for domestic partners. When you work with us, our attorneys will thoroughly assess your situation and execute a strategy to ensure that you achieve the outcome you deserve.
If you have questions about any issues relating to a domestic partnership or civil union in New Jersey, the family law attorneys at Romanowski Law Offices are here to help. Contact us today to schedule an expert consultation.