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NJ Courts Approve No-Fault Grounds for Dissolution of Same-Sex Civil Unions

Northern Jersey Marraige Lawyer | Jeffrey M. Bloom

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey family court recently ruled on a case regarding the dissolution of a same-sex civil union. The ruling will have a significant impact on these cases, since it’s paved the way for same-sex civil unions to be dissolved on the grounds of irreconcilable differences (no-fault).

Prior to this case, the statute for dissolution of a civil union didn’t allow for irreconcilable differences as grounds to end the union. However, when the civil union statute was initially enacted in 2006, it occurred because the NJ Supreme Court ruled that “unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution.”

At that time, no-fault grounds for divorce were not allowed in New Jersey. As a result, it wasn’t listed as a provision in the same-sex civil union statute either. When the law was enacted, the only grounds for dissolution of a civil union were:

  • Extreme cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Willful and continued desertion for a period of 12 or more consecutive months
  • Drug addiction or habitual drunkenness for 12 or more consecutive months
  • Separation for at least 18 consecutive months with no reasonable prospect of reconciling
  • Imprisonment for 18 consecutive months or longer
  • Institutionalization for mental illness for 2 years or longer

Shortly after the civil union legislation was enacted, the New Jersey state laws regarding divorce changed to allow for no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences. However, the civil union statute was never updated to match the new divorce laws.

In the recent case heard by the Appellate Court, the judge ruled that the civil union statute was intended to mirror the divorce laws. Therefore, any laws that reference marriage will also include civil unions, ensuring that all individuals receive the same rights under the law.

If you need assistance with a matter associated with the dissolution of a same-sex civil union, please contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey M. Bloom using the form at the top right side of the page or call (855) 208-3650 today to schedule a consultation. Mr. Bloom serves clients in West New York, Ridgewood, and throughout Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey.

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