Civil Unions – Are They Divorce Actions?

by Annette Burns on August 23, 2009

Does a state that does not permit civil unions (same-gender
marriages) have authority to dissolve those civil unions?

A New York court has determined that, even though the State
of New York does not permit civil unions, New York must have a means to dissolve
a civil union if it otherwise has jurisdiction over the parties.   The remedy in New York courts is not,
however, a marital dissolution action.  A
dissolution action, under New York law, requires a “marriage”, and the parties’
civil union (entered into in Vermont, which recognizes civil unions) was not a
marriage.   New York courts do, however,
have jurisdiction to dissolve those unions under its “general jurisdiction to
hear and decide all equitable civil actions”. 

“While it seems clear from the facts presented that the
parties to this action have a valid Vermont union, this Court is constrained by
judicial precedent and legislative inaction and therefore cannot treat the
civil union as a marriage.” 

Is this how Arizona courts will handle a lawsuit for the dissolution
of a civil union when that issue arises here?

 

New York Civil Union Case   B.S. vs. F. B., New York Superior Court, No.
09-10999,  July 15, 2009.

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