Q: What is a Civil Union?
A: Well, under New Jersey law a civil union is the legally recognized union of two individuals of the same-sex. Couples in a civil union receive the legal benefits and protections and are subject to the legal responsibilities provided under New Jersey law to married couples. But a civil union is not a marriage.
Q: Who can enter into a New Jersey civil union?
A: Two people are eligible to enter into a civil union together if they are:
- the same-sex
- over 18 years old or have the consent of their parents
- not a party to another civil union, domestic partnership or marriage
- not closely related to each other
Q: How do my partner and I enter into a civil union in New Jersey?
A: The process for getting a civil union is the same as getting a marriage in New Jersey. You must obtain a civil union license from a licensing officer, such as a clerk or registrar, in the municipality where either of you resides. You must appear together to get the license. The license may not be issued until 72 hours after you apply for it, except in cases of emergency where the clerk can explain the procedure available for getting the license sooner. You will then need to have a ceremony of civil union within 30 days of issuance of your license. Two witnesses 18 or over must be present at the ceremony and sign the certificate of civil union, which is included on the civil union license form.
Q: Who can preside over our civil union ceremony?
A: The ceremony may be performed by the same individuals authorized to perform marriages in New Jersey.
Q: What will our rights and responsibilities be if we enter into a New Jersey civil union?
A: There are enormous state-based rights and responsibilities that include the following examples:
- rights to family leave benefits
- rights relating to joint ownership of property
- rights relating to insurance, health and pension benefits
- rights to public assistance benefits
- rights to tax benefits
- rights to medical care and hospital visitation
- rights to inheritance
- rights to separation, termination of the union and caring for the children.
Q: What would I need to do to end a New Jersey civil union?
A: You would terminate a New Jersey civil union in court the same way a marriage is terminated. I would suggest speaking to an attorney if you are seeking to terminate a civil union.
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