The Difference Between Marriage and Civil Union

Whether born of curiosity or a desire to make your relationship official, the question of marriage versus civil union is a common one among long-together couples. This question arises even more often for same-sex couples living in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Regardless of your relationship status, the ultimate decision you make when deciding between getting married and entering into a civil union will depend mostly on the law in your state, and then on personal preference.

Continue reading to learn the difference between marriage and civil union, including where you can get trusted legal advice concerning your family legal needs and marriage rights.

Same Sex Marriage Lawyer 407-887-7058
Same Sex Marriage Lawyer 407-887-7058

Civil Unions

A civil union is often confused with marriage because it is a marriage-like arrangement between two couples. In states that allow civil unions, couples are granted, under law, a very similar set of rights and responsibilities to a conventional marriage. For instance, Hawaii called their civil unions, “reciprocal beneficiary arrangements.”

The main separate between these state-permitted civil unions and marriage is the federal law. The federal government does not recognize civil unions, even if a state does. As a result, civil unions do not entitled partners to federal benefits, and therefore, cannot file taxes jointly, nor have rights to one another’s Social Security and Medicaid benefits.

Civil unions do offer some rights and benefits. Couples who have entered into a civil union can file state taxes jointly, own property together, have rights to spouses employment benefits (i.e. health insurance), set up inheritance rights, take bereavement leave from work in the case that a spouse dies, have joint parental rights, and much more.

Same-Sex Marriages

Civil unions have been widely practiced in states that do not allow same-sex marriage, since they give couples a way to publicly commit to one another and make their relationship official. Once the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges), some states, like Vermont, automatically converted all civil unions of same-sex couples to a legal marriage.

Florida and Civil Unions

Here in the state of Florida, our government does not recognize civil union nor domestic partnership, and therefore, will not grant spousal-like rights to unmarried couples.

Where to Get Marital Advice in Florida

Contact Attorney Shane T. Herbert at 407-887-7058 to get trusted legal marital law advice from a seasoned family lawyer in Orlando, Florida. You can choose to have your first appointment over the phone or even video conference, if needed. If you choose an in-office visit, our family law office is conveniently located in the Metro West area, within the Offices of Veranda Park, which offers free parking. We look forward to helping you resolve your family legal matters!

Shane T. Herbert, Attorney at Law
Shane T. Herbert, Attorney at Law 407-887-7058