In general, you will use the same filing status on your New Jersey return as you do for federal purposes. If you are not required to file a federal return, then you will use the same filing status on your New Jersey return that you would have used for federal purposes.
Partners in a civil union must file their New Jersey return using the same filing statuses that married couples use. Civil union partners cannot use the filing status single.
Your filing status is single if you are unmarried or not a partner in a civil union on the last day of the tax year, and you do not qualify for head of household or qualifying widow(er)/surviving civil union partner status.
If you are married or in a civil union on the last day of the tax year, you and your spouse/civil union partner can choose to file as married/CU couple, filing a joint return, or married/CU partner, filing a separate return.
If you were a member of a domestic partnership registered in New Jersey, you are not considered "married," and you cannot use the “joint” or “separate” filing statuses.
If you meet the requirements to file as head of household for federal purposes, you can file as head of household for New Jersey. Certain married individuals/civil union partners living apart can file as head of household for New Jersey if they meet the requirements for federal purposes.
You also may qualify to file as head of household if you are no longer eligible to file as qualifying widow(er)/surviving CU partner, and you have not remarried or entered into a new civil union.
If your spouse/civil union partner died during the year, you can file a joint return for the two of you as long as you did not remarry or enter into a new civil union before the end of the year. You can use the filing status "qualifying widow(er)/surviving civil union partner" for 2020 only if your spouse/CU partner died in either 2018 or 2019, you did not remarry or enter into a new civil union before the end of 2020, and you meet the other requirements to file as qualifying widow(er) with dependent child for federal purposes.
Additional information is available in Tax Topic Bulletin GIT-4 , Filing Status.