Prior to New Jersey legalizing same-sex marriage, New Jersey enacted the Civil Union bill which legally recognized the union of two individuals of the same sex. As a result, couples of the same sex were provided the right to enter into legal relationships and, were provided on a state level the same rights of opposite sex married couples.
Analogous to married heterosexual couples, individuals who entered into a civil union may unfortunately find themselves unhappy such that there is a need to formally end legal ties to their partner.
As a result, it is important for many couples to understand the process involved with ending a civil union in New Jersey.
File dissolution paperwork
To a certain extent, the process of dissolving a civil union is quite similar to the process of ending a marriage. First, someone must file a dissolution complaint in Family Court. They will then either need to negotiate terms with their partner or wait to have a judge review their case and resolve any disagreements concerning property division matters or other practical concerns. The process is almost identical to traditional divorce.
As with a divorce, couples facing civil union dissolution may benefit from trying to work collaboratively instead of employing an adversarial approach where they end up fighting in family court. Similar to the dissolution of a marriage, the dissolution of a civil union is often faster, more private and generally less expensive when the couple chooses to cooperate with one another as opposed to fighting.
Married same-sex couples have to file for divorce
Now, as a result of the legalization of same-sex marriage same-sex couples have to pursue the same divorce process as anyone else ending their marriage in New Jersey. Same sex marriages are essentially treated the same as heterosexual marriages in family court. One potential distinction, however, is that many same-sex couples have children who are biologically related to only one partner. Subsequently, parental rights in same-sex relationships can be complex as only one parent is the biological parent. While that is not to say the non-biological parent does not or will not have any legal rights, rather the legal approach taken is different than a custody case in which both parents are the biological parent of the child(ren).