What are Domestic Partners and Civil Unions?

New Jersey law currently recognizes domestic partnerships and civil unions in addition to marriages between individuals of opposite gender. Civil unions may be created only among individuals of the same gender. Two individuals of the same gender may form domestic partnerships or of opposite genders, but for purposes of health coverage, only same-gender domestic partnerships are considered. Note that same gender domestic partnerships are no longer formed as a matter of law in New Jersey as of February 19, 2007.

In general, the rights of spouses and partners of civil unions are the same for purposes of health coverage under New Jersey law. If an employer offers dependent coverage to employees, the employer must permit an employee to cover a civil union partner. Employers do not have to offer coverage to domestic partners when offering coverage to spouses or partners of civil unions. However, when an employer opts to offer coverage to domestic partners, the employer must treat all domestic partners consistently. Neither an employer nor a carrier may discriminate in the coverage of a child the employee claims as a dependent based on whether the child becomes a dependent of the employee pursuant to birth, adoption, marriage, civil union or domestic partnership.

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