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Same Sex Couples in New Jersey Can Get No-Fault Divorces

The year 2014 was a good year for same-sex relationships. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to consider the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and here in New Jersey a judge ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to get a divorce for the same reasons as everyone else. More plainly put, they are entitled to no-fault divorce. This ruling is another step in the right direction for equal rights under the law.

Prior to 2014, New Jersey did not allow same-sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples were able to enter into civil unions, however, legal marriage was not an option until very recently. This latest court decision may not sound like a big deal, but it protects same-sex couples from a drawn out, expensive legal process should they decide to divorce.

Ocean County NJ Judge Lawrence Jones found that irreconcilable differences is a valid reason for ending a same-sex marriage. His decision was based on Lewis v. Harris, which found that the NJ Constitution mandated that same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples. Jones stated that, “Based upon the near-identical nature of the respective causes of action for divorce and dissolution of civil union[s], it is self-evident that as of Dec. 20, 2006, the legislature’s intent was to create symmetry between the recognized causes of action for divorce and dissolution of a civil union, in a manner consistent with the terms and constitutional spirit of Lewis v. Harris.” Jones also found that while irreconcilable differences had been omitted from the civil union statutes, this was not surprising as it was not even an available option for heterosexual couples when the law was first enacted.

He wrote, “Against this backdrop, it is logical to conclude that had married couples in New Jersey been legally allowed at that time to dissolve their marriages based upon the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences, a similar right and cause of action would have been included … expressly providing an equal right for same-sex couples to seek no-fault dissolution on such grounds.”

Divorce is just as emotional and overwhelming for same-sex couples as it is for heterosexual couples. It can be complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Choose a family lawyer with a track-record of helping clients achieve positive outcomes in same-sex divorce cases.

While same-sex divorce is very similar to heterosexual divorce, there are some unique aspects which require the help of an attorney with experience in this specific area. Contact Graziano & Flynn for compassionate, skilled legal assistance with your divorce.

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