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Queens Attorneys Explain Civil Unions and New York Laws

Law firm navigates laws governing civil unions in New York State

A number of states have recently introduced the option of civil unions, available equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. If you are in a civil union, you may be wondering how New York State family law applies to you. The attorneys at Sager Gellerman Eisner Attorneys at Law explain where your relationship stands in the eyes of New York law.

Status of same-sex unions in New York

In 2011, New York State legalized same-sex marriage after years of public and legislative debate. In previous years, many New York same-sex couples married or formed civil unions in other states, which raised novel legal questions about how those marriages and unions would be treated in New York. A number of court cases clarify this issue, and an experienced family law attorney can inform you about New York’s treatment of out-of-state civil unions and marriages.

In short, civil unions are treated just like marriages under New York family law. The pertinent issues include:

  • Divorce — Before 2011, there were questions about whether partners in an out-of-state civil union could divorce in New York. The 2011 laws in New York clarified that civilly united partners can divorce in New York just like marital partners. The same residency requirements apply. To dissolve a marriage or civil union in New York, you must meet one of the following residency requirements:
    • The parties were married or united in New York, and at least one of the parties lived in New York for one year or more before filing for divorce.
    • The parties were married or united elsewhere but resided together in New York after the marriage or union, and at least one of the parties lived in New York for one year or more before filing.
    • The grounds for the divorce occurred in New York, and at least one of the parties lived in New York for one year or more before filing.
    • The grounds for the divorce occurred in New York, and both parties live in New York at the time of filing.
    • Either party has lived in New York for two years or more before filing.
  • Child custody — Ultimately, the best interests of the child is the basis for all custody decisions, so such decisions do not hinge on marital status — same-sex or otherwise.
  • Property division In New York, courts equitably distribute the joint property of civilly united partners just like marital partners.

Does NY recognize civil unions?

Yes. Same-sex couples were given the right to marry legally in New York on June 24, 2011. Under the Marriage Equality Act, same-sex couples enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and benefits under New York state law as opposite-sex couples.

How to get a civil union divorce / dissolution in New York

If you are seeking a dissolution of your civil union in the same state where you were married, you can follow the same divorce process that opposite-sex couples would follow with the family court. You may want to consider consulting a divorce attorney who has experience dealing with same-sex civil union dissolution.

Our matrimonial law attorneys are equipped to answer all of your questions about how the State of New York treats your marriage or civil union.

Contact our New York State lawyers for advice on your civil union issues

Our attorneys at Sager Gellerman Eisner Attorneys at Law are knowledgeable about the latest legal developments relating to civil unions and same-sex marriage. You can reach us through our online contact form or call us at 347.625.1038 for a consultation. From our offices in Queens and Forest Hills, we serve clients in Nassau and Queens Counties and the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.