New Jersey joined the company of Connecticut and Vermont when it passed a Bill legalizing civil unions.
The requirements for the dissolution of a civil union are quite similar to those for marriages.
On February 19, 2007, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2.1 came into effect, providing the state with a list of grounds acceptable for dissolution of civil unions.
The dissolution of a civil union may be adjudged for the following causes:
a. voluntary sexual intercourse between a person who is in a civil union and an individual other than the person’s partner in a civil union couple;
b. willful and continued desertion for a period of 12 or more consecutive months, which may be established by satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit as partners in a civil union couple;
c. extreme cruelty, which is defined as including any physical or mental cruelty that endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant; except that no complaint for termination shall be filed until after three months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint, but this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim;
d. separation, provided that the partners in a civil union couple have lived separate and apart in different habitations for a period of at least 18 or more consecutive months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation; and provided further that, after the 18-month period, there shall be a presumption that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation;
e. voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug, as defined in the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” P.L.1970, c. 226 (C.24:21-2) or the “Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987,” N.J.S.2C:35- 1 et al., or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to establishment of the civil union and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
f. institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to establishment of the civil union and next preceding the filing of the complaint; or
g. imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after establishment of the civil union, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant’s release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following the imprisonment.
Considering irreconcilable differences (newly accepted cause of action) has been permitted for the dissolution of marriages, it seems odd that it is not mentioned in the above statute as a cause of action for the dissolution of civil unions. Perhaps this will change.