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What is the difference between a Civil Union and Marriage? 

Navigation:  Home > Legal Questions >What is the difference between a Civil Union and Marriage? 


Besides the emotional component of simply being "married," there are quite a few legal differences between the two statuses, primarily that civil unions are only recognized in the state in which they are performed, while marriages are recognized in all 50 states. Because civil unions are recognized only in the state performed, civil unions do not get any federal protections. Moreover, if a same-sex couple were recognized in a civil union in Vermont, they would not be recognized in Texas, while a marriage in one state is recognized in all states.


Also, with a civil union, if the couple wants it dissolved, they must get it dissolved in the state it was conducted. For instance, in Vermont, civil unions can only be dissolved in Vermont and one of the partners must have been a resident of the state to get it dissolved. On the other hand, a married couple can get a divorce in any of the fifty states.


Moreover, civil unions - because they are not recognized by the federal government - do not gain any of the tax breaks that married couples get, such as the ability to file their taxes jointly. In all, there are over 1,000 benefits and protections afforded to married couples by the federal government that civil unions do not get.


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