Marriages between individuals of the same sex were legalized in New Jersey at the end of 2013, following the ruling in Garden State Equality v. Dow. That ruling held that New Jersey could not put restrictions on marriages between individuals of the same sex that were different than those imposed marriages between individuals of different sexes.
With Marriage Comes the Need for Divorce
Same-sex married couples are no different that married couples of different sexes. Sometimes, marriages do not work out, and ending the legal union between the individuals becomes necessary. In New Jersey cities like Verona and West Orange, the 2013 ruling means that the divorce process is the same for all married couples, regardless of sexual orientation. The questions then become: where do you file for divorce and what are the issues to consider?
Venue for Same-Sex Divorces in West Orange, NJ
One of the first matters to determine is which court is appropriate for the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. The Superior Court of each county is legally vested with the authority to enter orders related to divorce complaints; however, there are residency requirements that must be satisfied prior to filing. Under New Jersey law, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of New Jersey for at least one (1) year prior to the filing of the complaint. The county in which the spouse currently resides is the proper county Superior Court for filing.
Venue can present issues for same-sex couples, especially if they have recently moved to New Jersey or if they were married in New Jersey and moved to another state. Even though same-sex marriage was validated by the United States Supreme Court, states have been slow to properly recognize the rights of those couples. If you were married in New Jersey and have moved, consult a family law attorney in that state to understand the extent of your rights.
Same-Sex Property Division Issues in Essex Falls, NJ
One of the bigger concerns for same-sex couples comes in the form of property division. Many same-sex couples have operated as if they were married for years prior to the legal approval of same-sex marriages. The couples have often shared expenses, invested in real property, and saved for retirement together. However, for the purposes of property division, New Jersey law takes into consideration the time a couple was legally married. The longest any same-sex couple could have married under New Jersey law is since 2013 – meaning many couples may have been operating as a married couple for much longer but only benefit from the legal protections based on a much shorter period of marriage.
Because of these legal issues, mediation will likely be beneficial for the couple, as determinations regarding the division of property can be reached based on the actual time the couple was married; not on the time of the legal marriage. If the couple is unable to reach a determination regarding division, they may have to avail themselves of the Court, and take the risk that the term of their marriage is limited to the period since 2013.
Contact a Verona Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Same-Sex Divorce in New Jersey Today
If you are in a same-sex marriage and thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Nitti & Nitti represent clients throughout the state, including North Caldwell, West Caldwell, and Livingston. We understand how challenging this can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.