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Rights of same-sex couples in New Jersey family law

Rights of Same-Sex Couples in New Jersey Family Law

New Jersey has been at the forefront of expanding rights for same-sex couples, particularly in the realm of family law. The state's legal landscape has evolved significantly over the years, offering same-sex couples protections and privileges once exclusively available to heterosexual couples.

Marriage Equality

The turning point for same-sex marriage in New Jersey came in 2013 when the New Jersey Supreme Court denied the state's request to prevent same-sex marriages. Following this decision, New Jersey became the fourteenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. This landmark shift granted same-sex couples in New Jersey the right to marry, with all the accompanying legal benefits and responsibilities.

Adoption and Parenting Rights

Same-sex couples in New Jersey have the right to adopt children jointly. The state allows for second-parent adoption, which means that a non-biological parent can legally adopt their partner's child without terminating the biological parent's legal status. This provision is crucial for same-sex couples looking to secure parental rights for both partners.

Divorce and Alimony

In cases of divorce, same-sex couples are entitled to the same legal processes as opposite-sex couples. This includes equitable distribution of assets, alimony, and child support considerations. The dissolution of a same-sex marriage follows the same guidelines as any other marriage in New Jersey, ensuring a fair approach to separation.

Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, New Jersey offered domestic partnerships and later, civil unions for same-sex couples. Although marriage is now an option for all, these forms of legal partnership are still recognized. For older couples or those choosing not to marry, domestic partnerships and civil unions provide certain legal benefits similar to marriage.

Discrimination Protections

New Jersey has robust laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. These laws extend protections to same-sex couples in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations, further supporting their rights within the family law context.

Surrogacy and Assisted Reproduction

The state also has progressive laws regarding surrogacy agreements and assisted reproductive technology (ART). Same-sex couples can utilize these methods to start or grow their families and have their parenting rights recognized legally.


New Jersey's family law continues to evolve, reflecting society's growing acceptance and recognition of same-sex relationships. With comprehensive legal protections in place, same-sex couples can navigate family law matters with greater assurance of equality under the law.