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Unmarried Couples Archives

Eligibility for a New Jersey domestic partnership

A domestic partnership is a legal relationship between two people that provides some, but not all, of the same benefits as a marriage. Domestic partnerships became an option for same-sex and opposite-sex couples after the Domestic Partnership Act was passed by the New Jersey legislature in 2004. When the Civil Union Act of 2007 was passed, domestic partnerships in that state were limited to couples at or over the age of 62.

Benefits of no-nups in New Jersey

In March 2012, 15.3 million heterosexual adults were living with a partner to whom they were not married. However, couples who are not married may still benefit from having a written agreement known as a no-nup that outlines what happens if one person falls ill or dies. It may also be a good idea to include in the agreement how household bills are split or how property will be split if the couple decides to end their relationship.

Child custody and visitation when divorce is not an issue

Although divorce is the most common scenario in which visitation and child custody rights are sought in New Jersey courts, there are also many situations in which these rights don't relate to the end of a marriage. For example, unmarried couples might seek custody and visitation agreements through the court system. Third parties, often the relatives of the children involved in a custody action, could act on behalf of a child who is suffering from parental neglect or other negative living situations. All states have some form of visitation laws to protect the rights of grandparents as well, which could result in legal action in some cases.

Unmarried fathers and parental rights

Unmarried biological fathers in New Jersey have a right to access to their children unless that contact is in some way harmful to the children. Courts use the guidelines of the child's best interests in order to determine custody and visitation schedules. For an unmarried father, the first step in getting this access is establishing paternity.

Domestic partnership dissolution in New Jersey

When a couple dissolves their domestic partnership, their status will become as it was prior to entering into the partnership in the first place. Domestic partners must still go through the same types of issues that a divorcing couple does, including property division, child custody issues and support. Unfortunately, the protections afforded to divorcing married couples are not available to those dissolving domestic partnerships under certain circumstances.

Understanding domestic partnerships

New Jersey residents may benefit from learning more about different issues associated with domestic partnerships and civil unions. First and foremost, domestic partnerships are designed to allow an individual the right to visit a partner being treated at the hospital and to grant authority in making medical decisions. Domestic partnerships may also provide partners with rights to equitable distribution and financial protections. This status may apply to seniors who choose an alternative means to marriage or gay or lesbian couples who desire to be in a legally recognized relationship.

Defining a domestic partnership in New Jersey

First defined by the Domestic Partnership Act on July 10, 2004, and amended by the Civil Union Act on February 19, 2007, domestic partnerships in New Jersey apply both to same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are age 62 or older. Originally, the law applied to same sex-couples who were 18 and older.

Dissolving a domestic partnership

Are you in a domestic partnership that you wish to exit? New Jersey is one of a handful of states that recognizes domestic partnerships for couples who wish to have some legal and financial protections, but who either can't marry or don't wish to marry. Domestic partnerships are commonly used by gay and lesbian couples and also by senior citizens who are in a relationship but don't want to marry. While a domestic partnership can provide a number of marriage-like rights and benefits, the laws surrounding a domestic partnership dissolution aren't so clear.

Palimony Agreements

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court of New Jersey issued a decision holding that the 2010 Amendment to the Statute of Frauds, N.J.S.A. 25:1-5(h) does not render oral palimony agreements that predate it unenforceable because the Legislature did not intend the Amendment to apply retroactively.  This important decision gives new life to parties who have entered into oral palimony agreements prior to 2010. 

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