Before the enactment of civil unions in New Jersey, the only option available to same sex couples was a domestic partnership, which provided limited benefits. Following the enactment of civil unions in New Jersey, the Domestic Partnership Act was revised such that these partnerships only became available to persons age 62 or older. Same sex couples who had entered into domestic partnerships prior to enactment civil unions in New Jersey had the option to maintain their domestic partnership status, or convert same to a civil union.
Civil unions provide the same rights and benefits to same sex couples as marriage does to heterosexual couples. This includes a wide range of benefits including alimony, child support, and equitable distribution in the context of a divorce. If a couple with a domestic partnership does not convert the partnership to a civil union, they are not entitled to the rights and benefits, which would accrue as if they had a civil union.
If you have questions regarding civil unions and domestic partnerships in New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment to meet with me in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office.