Dissolution of Civil Unions in New Jersey

A civil union sometimes referred to as a domestic partnership, is a marriage alternative for same-sex partners, or partners who seek to have certain benefits of a marriage, but without the full process of marriage. With the national legalization of same-sex marriage in June of 2015, civil unions have become less common, however, some partners may still choose to enter into a civil union for their own reasoning unique to their relationship. Some may find, however, that either the domestic partnership does not work as intended, or that they would rather enter into a marriage. In either case, the couple must go to the court to file for a dissolution of the civil union.

Dissolving A Civil Union

In New Jersey law, a civil union is viewed as equal to a marriage, and as such, will undergo relatively the same process as New Jersey divorce. This means that the residency requirements remain the same as well. One of the partners must have lived in New Jersey for at least a year. Partners will also be referred to as "plaintiff" and "defendant" depending who initiates the filing. There is one important difference between the two types of unions. A civil union is not the same as a marriage, and cannot be dissolved through a no-fault divorce process. Instead, the partner filing for the dissolution must show that one of the following grounds has been met:

  • Adultery: If one of the partners exhibits infidelity, the grounds for adultery will have been met and the proceedings can begin.
  • Extreme cruelty: Extreme cruelty is a broad category, but the most common example of this is when one partner is abusive in any way towards the other, especially in cases of domestic violence.
  • Separation: If partners remain separated for over 18 months time, then they may begin the process for dissolving their civil union.
  • Commitment to a mental health institution: If one of the partners in the civil union has remained committed to a mental health institution for over 24 months time, then the other partner may file for a dissolution.
  • Substance abuse: If one partner is suffering from addiction to alcohol or a narcotic substance for a period of over 12 months, the other partner may file for a dissolution.
  • Imprisonment: If a partner in a civil union is imprisoned for a period of time over 18 months, their counterpart may file for a dissolution in response.

Once the grounds are met, then the process for dissolution can begin. The partners will split their assets, and resolve any issues that pertain to custody and support, just like they would in a divorce. New Jersey may also allow conversion of civil unions into full marriages, but a new marriage cannot be entered into without the dissolution of the civil union.

If you or a loved one is seeking the dissolution of a civil union or is involved in other matters of Family Law, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.