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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.

Couples must meet certain eligibility criteria to be able to register their domestic partnerships. The first criteria deals with residence. In order for a couple to register, they must share a place of residence. If the residence is not in New Jersey, at least one party must provide proof of membership in a New Jersey State-managed retirement system. Proof of membership can be established by presenting a Personal Benefits Statement from the current or previous year, a 1099R from the current or previous year or a Certificate of Pension Membership.

A second criteria deals with the relationship itself. The members of the relationship must show that they are mutually responsible for each other's welfare and payment of basic living expenses and that they have freely chosen to commit to a caring relationship with each other. Evidence of this can include proof of joint ownership of real estate and personal property as well as joint financial arrangements. Additionally, individuals must prove that they are not married or in another civil union that can be recognized in New Jersey and that they were not part of a termination of domestic partnership within the previous 180 days unless the relationship ended due to death.

Though the law was amended in 2007, the State of New Jersey recognizes partnerships registered before the amendment. If a couple wishes to dissolve a partnership, a request for termination must be filed with the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Health, "Domestic Partnership", October 29, 2014

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