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Civil Unions in Boston

As an attorney that regularly assists same-sex couples, I field questions about civil unions quite often.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes and detail what’s been occurring across the country in regards to civil unions.

What Are Civil Unions?

A civil union gives a same-sex couple the same rights that a heterosexual couple enjoys – without calling the union a “marriage.” The first state to recognize civil unions was Vermont in 2000. Since then, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire have followed Vermont’s lead. However, the federal government does not recognize civil unions and States are not obligated to recognize them either under the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). But with more and more states recognizing same-sex unions, and additional states making plans to, there are a lot of unanswered questions out there. Most of these questions can be answered by just doing a search on Google. But one question you won’t find many answers to, and it’s one that I hear quite often.

What happens when a same-sex couple is ready to split-up?

Here are a couple of scenarios.

Let’s say a couple took advantage of Vermont’s civil union law in 2003 but are now looking to split-up. If they reside in Vermont, they can get a “divorce”.

But if that couple does not reside in Vermont, and wishes to end their union, it’s likely that they will not be able to do so given the small number of states that recognize their relationship.

If they live in Massachusetts however, it is likely that the Commonwealth will grant a dissolution, because in Massachusetts, “marriage” and “divorce” is a right granted to every couple.

If you are in a same-sex relationship and have questions pertaining to civil unions, please contact me at (617) 652-5748 or email me by clicking here: [mailto][/mailto].


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