Couples need to make so many choices while planning for their big day. Some of the things that they look at include the wedding venue, menu, clothes, new home, cars, etc. however, most of them forget to make a choice between going for a civil union vs. marriage.
There are clear distinctions between a civil union vs. marriage. The concept of civil union was very popular before the United States declared same-sex marriage legal. This article will help you to understand the difference between civil union vs. marriage.
What Is A Civil Union?
A civil Union, in the United States, refers to marriage-like legal status. Currently, it is only issued in the States of New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, and Colorado.
It provides most of the benefits that marriages offer to both heterosexual and same-sex couples. Civil unions are different from marriages because they are recognized only at the state level.
In 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States. Some of the existing civil unions, at that time, were converted into marriages. However, most of the existing couples still prefer to remain in their civil unions up to date.
Civil unions are like domestic partnerships. The first state to create civil unions was Vermont in 2000. It gave lesbians and gays who are in stable relationships legal protection because there was no option for same-sex marriage. Civil unions only offer protection at the state level and have no protections whatsoever at the federal level.
What Is A Marriage?
This section will form the basis of understanding the difference between a civil union vs. marriage. Most people who marry do so because of commitment and love. Marriages have a legal status that comes with responsibilities and rights.
The marriage sets forth a legal kinship between the two parties. The marriage relationship is recognized across religions, cultures, and even countries.
The government of the United States issues couples a paper marriage license that entitles them to share insurance, benefits, finances, and other forms of allowances like hospital visitation rights.
What Is A Domestic Partnership
A domestic partnership is present in some municipalities and states but domestic partnership laws vary from one state to another. For instance, the domestic partnership law of Oregon comes with several responsibilities and rights. We also have some that give very few benefits to the couples.
The Rights That Civil Unions Provide
In states where civil unions are still recognized and issued, they share the same level of protection like marriages. These typically include taxes, spousal privilege, separation, property, parental rights, healthcare, employment, estate planning. You can read more about each of them to know what they entail.
Even though these rights are similar to what you get in a marriage, the main differentiating factor is that the union partners have a guarantee of these protections within the state. Civil unions don’t entitle couples to federal benefits as these are only present among married couples. It forms the main difference between civil union vs. marriage.
Federal Benefits Of A Marriage
To add on the above benefits, there are certain unique protections and rights that marriage will grant a couple at the federal level. These include immigration, social security, tax, and veterans.
Given all the above reasons, it is prudent to choose an option that fits your family best. Even though it is not romantic to have prenuptial agreements on your wedding plans agenda list, it will protect your assets and even you before you enter into a civil union or marriage. That is why you need to understand the main differences between a marriage vs. civil union.
Civil Unions VS. Gay Marriages
The main difference between these two is recognition in the other states. The laws around marriage vary from one state to another. If you are married in one state and you move to another one, your marriage will be recognized legally.
However, this is not the case when dealing with domestic partnerships and civil unions. Some states recognize domestic partnerships while others don’t. There are states that don’t recognize the civil unions that are carried out by the other States. The reason is that these states don’t have that kind of legal category.
The other differentiating factor is immigration. If a United States citizen marries a non-American, he can sponsor her for immigration into the country. However, people who are in civil unions don’t have this privilege.
When it comes to taxes, the government does not recognize civil unions. Therefore, couples are not eligible for tax protections or breaks and they cannot file joint tax returns. These are benefits that you can only gain when you are in a marriage.
In 1997, the general accounting office released a list of 1,049 protections and benefits that heterosexual married couples can get. The benefits range from federal benefits like social security through survivor benefits, sick leave when your partner is ailing, insurance breaks, veterans benefits, and tax breaks.
The other benefits include employer family insurance, family discounts, visiting a spouse in hospital and making medical decisions for the other partner if he is unable to do so. Some of these rights, and not all of them, are protected by the civil unions.
Can Lawyers Set-Up Marriages: Like Benefits For The Same Sex Couples
Attorneys can set up certain things such as the durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and wills. However, there are so many problems with this solution.
First, the legal fee will cost you thousands of dollars. A simple marriage certificate will cost you close to 100 dollars and cover the same benefits and rights.
You can challenge any of them in court. So many wills are challenged in the court of law. When it comes to marriages, legal spouses have more power than the other entire family member. It is a great benefit when looking at marriage vs. civil union.
When you look at civil union vs. marriage, you will discover that marriage has universal laws. In case your spouse is injured in an accident, the only thing you need to do is prove that it is your husband or wife. The marriage certificate will give you entry anywhere and this is not the case when dealing with civil unions.
There is a very big difference between civil union vs. marriage. All said and done, marriages tend to have more benefits than civil unions. Besides, marriage laws are universal and they are recognized at the federal level. Civil unions are only recognized in the given state and the laws tend to vary from one state to another.