Under NJ law, prior to same sex marriage being legalized, the state decided on civil unions as the legal mechanism to allow for same sex couples to be legally “wed.” This law is still on the books and the state never created a process to convert civil unions to marriages.
When dissolving a civil union, it is not equivalent to a marital divorce under federal law. Federal law recognizes marriages, not civil unions. Thus all federal law dealing with divorces do not apply to civil unions. These include:
- Tax free equitable distribution
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) to distribute retirement assets that ERISA manages
- Alimony (if the taxability of it returns under tax law)
Other issues might involve interstate matters such as out-of-state property and child custody.