Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
A civil union provides legal protection between two individuals at the state level only; however, not all states recognize this. This is not considered a marriage. These rights do not give the couple protection at the federal level. They were first begun to protect and help couples against certain federal benefits marriage can impact, such as social security benefits or health insurance.
In most states the requirements for a civil union are similar:
Normally, civil unions are between same sex couples whereas a marriage refers to opposite sex couples. While marriage is nationally recognized, civil union is not recognized in all states of the US. Marriage comes with privileges and rights that civil union may not grant to a couple. The main difference between a civil union and a marriage is that a civil union is mainly used in the event that marriage is not legally possible for whatever reason.
To end a civil union, one must usually follow the same procedure as they would if they are getting a divorce in a marriage. They can retrieve the forms at a law library at no cost or they can purchase them online in the state the couple needs to file.
To end a civil union in a different state you may have to go to the state in which the civil union was granted. This is because one jurisdiction cannot grant a judgment in another state to end a civil union.
Case Details: The state does not recognize same sex marriage.
There are two options, one is to go back to the state you were married in and get a divorce and come back and apply for a civil union. The second is to check no on the form where it asks if you were previously married.
When two people are in a civil union and are separating it is much like a couple getting a divorce. The property would be divided between both parties. The best way to protect yourself from losing property is to have a prenuptial agreement drawn up before entering into a civil union.
Just like marriage a civil union must be dissolved if parties are separating. You do not have to live in the state in which you filed originally. However, since not all states recognize civil unions you may not be able to file in that state. If that is the case, the divorce would need to be filed in the state the union was issued.
The Civil Union Act gives couples the same opportunities as married couples, such as being on insurance plans.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service.