In 2004, New Jersey became one of the first states to allow more rights for homosexual partners. The New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples some of the rights of married heterosexual couples, specifically when it came to child custody, property, retirement, and healthcare. Rights for the LGBT community have continued to expand in New Jersey with the legalization of civil unions in 2007 and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013.
Even with the expanded availability of civil unions and marriages, individuals who are older than 62 can still file domestic partnership regardless of gender. In order to apply, the couple must share a residence, have a vested interest in each other’s welfare and both contribute to financial holdings. Additionally, neither party can be married nor part of a civil union at the time a domestic partnership is filed. If either member was in a previous legally recognized relationship, they must wait at least 180 before filing for domestic partnership with their new partner.
The New Jersey Civil Union Act, effective February 2007, allowed homosexual couples more rights than a domestic partnership. Couples who filed for civil union could share tax benefits (for state taxes), as well as family benefits such as inheritance rights, testimony rights, pension benefits and compensation in the case of wrongful death. These privileges had been limited to married heterosexual couples prior to 2007.
Gay marriage was legalized in New Jersey in October, 2013. The governor’s administration initially opposed the ruling by the state Superior Court, but marriage equality laws still went into effect. Gay couples could now enjoy full marriage benefits as their heterosexual married counterparts.
In June, 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in all 50 states via the Marriage Equality Act. The ruling was a tight five to four victory for LGBT rights in America. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who spoke for the majority, defended gay marriage as a Constitutional liberty that cannot be denied. Dissenters included all four of the Court’s conservative justices who each filed a separate dissent stating their opinions on the ruling.
Because state and federal laws concerning marriage rights have changed drastically in the past decade, same sex couples can benefit from legal representation. A Monmouth County divorce lawyer can answer all of your questions regarding current rights for LGBT couples. The law offices of Fox & Melofchik are located in Ocean Township and our firm represents clients in Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, and Mercer County as well as residents of Colts Neck, Deal, Holmdel, Little Silver, Monmouth Beach, and Rumson. Please call us today at 732-493-9400 or contact us online to schedule your complimentary consultation.