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Irreconcilable Differences is a Basis for Dissolution of Civil Unions in New Jersey

Engagement ring and a letter

On October 18, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriages in the State of New Jersey.  As part of that decision, the Court said, “[S]ame-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.  The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”  While the rights of same-sex couples to marry became clear as a result of this landmark decision, it also brought up the issue of dissolving civil unions in the same manner as a divorce, and on what grounds for dissolution would be available to a same-sex couple.

Notably, the applicable statute does not address dissolution of civil unions on no-fault grounds.  Although the statute provides for 7 different grounds for the dissolution of a civil union, irreconcilable differences are not listed amongst them.  This issue remained up in the air until the Honorable L.R. Jones recently held that same-sex couples can legally dissolve their civil unions based upon irreconcilable differences, despite the fact that the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences is not listed in the statute.  Judge Jones went on to say, “[b]ased upon the near-identical nature of the respective causes of action for divorce and dissolution of civil union . . . the Legislature’s intent was to create a symmetry between the recognized causes of action for divorce and dissolution of a civil union . . .”

In the event you are seeking to dissolve your same-sex marriage, and would like to understand more about the process and the services available to you, please do not hesitate to contact my office and schedule a consultation.  If you have any questions or concerns about this post or any other matrimonial or family law matter, please contact me at jllawrence@nmmlaw.com.