Civil unions. Following a mandate from the state Supreme Court, the New Jersey Legislature amended the state marriage statute by adding same-sex civil union couples as a legally recognized union (NJ Rev. Stat. Sec. 37:1-28 et seq.). Under the law, same-sex couples who enter a civil union are provided the same rights and benefits and have the same legal responsibilities as married heterosexual couples. A "civil union" under the act is defined as the legally recognized union of two eligible individuals of the same sex.
To establish a civil union under the law, the individuals must:
• Not be a party to another civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage
• Be of the same sex
• Be at least 18 years old (unless permission is granted by minor's parents or legal guardian)
Officials authorized to issue marriage licenses and those authorized to preside over marriage ceremonies are authorized to perform their respective duties for civil unions. New Jersey's attorney general has issued a written opinion advising that same-sex marriages or civil unions entered into legally in another state or a foreign nation are valid in New Jersey if the legal relationship provides substantially all of the rights and benefits of marriage (Atty. Gen. Op. 3-2007). Same-sex relationships formalized in jurisdictions that provide fewer rights and obligations will be recognized under New Jersey's Domestic Partnership Act.