Chapter 246, P.L. 2003, the Domestic Partnership Act, was signed into law on January 12, 2004 and took effect on July 10, 2004. The Act established domestic partnerships for same sex and opposite sex (age 62 and older) nonrelated partners. The Act was amended by the Civil Union Act, P.L. 2006, C. 103, section 91, effective February 19, 2007. The Civil Union Act continued existing same sex domestic partnerships (18 and older), but no longer allowed same sex couples to enter into new domestic partnerships on and after Feb. 19, 2007. However, a same sex couple in an existing domestic partnership before February 19, 2007, who, thereafter, enters into a Civil Union, effectively terminates the domestic partnership. Unrelated opposite sex couples 62 and older (as defined below), however, could still enter into domestic partnerships after the effective date of the Civil Union Act.
Under the Domestic Partnership Act, a domestic partnership is established when both persons have a common residence and are jointly responsible for each other's common welfare as evidenced by joint financial arrangements or joint ownership of real or personal property. Both persons must not be related by blood or affinity up to and including the fourth degree of consanguinity and be of the opposite sex age 62 years or older. Both persons must agree to be jointly responsible for each other's basic living expenses during the domestic partnership. Neither person can be in a marriage recognized by New Jersey law or can be a member of another domestic partnership.
The State of New Jersey recognizes domestic partnerships if both persons jointly file an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership with their local registrar. An Affidavit of Domestic Partnership is an affidavit that sets forth each party's name and age, the parties' common mailing address, and a statement that, at the time the affidavit is signed, both parties meet the requirements of the Act and wish to enter into a domestic partnership with each other. In order to file such affidavit, neither person can have been a partner in a domestic partnership that was terminated less than 180 days prior to the filing of the current Affidavit of Domestic Partnership, except that this prohibition does not apply if one of the partners died.
For New Jersey Gross Income tax purposes, the Domestic Partnership Act applies to the 2004 income tax year and provides that the meaning of "Dependent" includes a qualified domestic partner. Consequently, taxpayers are able to claim an additional $1,000.00 personal exemption for a qualified domestic partner that does not file a separate income tax return.
For New Jersey Transfer Inheritance Tax purposes, the Domestic Partnership Act applies to decedents dying on or after July 10, 2004. It exempts all transfers made by will, survivorship or contract to a surviving domestic partner. This includes a membership certificate or stock in a cooperative housing corporation and the value of any pension, annuity, retirement allowance or return of contributions.
The New Jersey Estate tax is based upon the Federal Estate tax credit for state death taxes which was allowable under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in effect on December 31, 2001. The Federal Estate tax does not have a provision providing a deduction for property passing to a domestic partner.
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services' Office of Vital Statistics will administer the registration of domestic partnerships. For more information, you may visit their website or call 609-292-4087. Also, the Office of the State Registrar can be contacted at 609-984-3445.