As a result of a NJ trial court decision, New Jersey became the 14th state in the country to acknowledge the validity of same-sex marriage.

As of 2014, only 1/3 of the United States legally recognizes same-sex marriages. At Arons and Solomon, we’ve had several clients that have come to us with questions and concerns regarding same-sex marriage. Let’s go through and analyze some of the most common FAQs regarding same-sex marriage.

What are the differences between a civil union and same-sex marriage?

Marriages are respected state to state for all legal purposes. Civil unions are not recognized in every state and in states where they are not recognized, there are no protections.

Marriage brings over 1,000 legal protections and responsibilities from the government including family medical leave, Social Security survivor benefits, etc. Civil unions bring almost none of these protections.

If I am in a domestic partnership or civil union, do I need to get married?

When it comes to both domestic partnerships and civil unions, you would need to apply for a marriage license and participate in a marriage ceremony performed by a person authorized in New Jersey to perform marriages to become legally married. Domestic partnerships and civil unions remain valid, but you are not guaranteed any of the rights that are afforded to couples who are legally married.

Also, civil unions and domestic partnerships will not automatically convert into a same-sex marriage. Again, a couple must apply for a marriage license and participate in a ceremony to officially become married. A couple does not need to first dissolve a civil union or domestic partnership to become married if they are marrying the same civil union partner.

What if I want to marry a different person than my current civil union partner?

In this case, you need to first dissolve your civil union with the first partner in order to enter into a marriage with the new partner.

What if we were married in another state? What do we need to when we relocate to New Jersey?

If you are married in a state that has legalized same-sex marriage, then nothing needs to be done in New Jersey. You are legally married here.

If I currently am engaged in a civil union and apply for a marriage license, do we need to wait the 72-hour waiting period before participating in a marriage ceremony?

You must comply with the 72-hour waiting period unless a NJ Superior Court Judge waives the waiting period (as in the case of an emergency situation).

If I am in a civil union with my partner and we decide to enter into a marriage, can we apply for a remarriage license or do we need to apply for a marriage license?

Couples who are not currently married in another state and are only in a civil union must apply for a marriage license in the state of New Jersey. The couple must also comply with the 72-hour waiting period for this license.

New Jersey is one of the only states that permits both same-sex marriages and civil unions.