A civil union is similar to a marriage agreement but has several important distinctions as well. Civil unions were created to allow same-sex couples the opportunity to commit to each other and express their love publicly. When civil union laws were passed, same-sex marriage was illegal. But in 2015 the United States Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriages, effectively making civil unions less relevant. Despite the lifting of the marriage ban, several couples have decided to remain in civil unions.
Most states give couples the same rights whether they are in a civil union or marriage. There are several similarities between the two. Both marriages and civil unions give spouses inheritance rights, bereavement rights and the right to file taxes together. A person may ask their ex-spouse for financial support after a civil union is terminated. Even in court, the law protects civil union partners by allowing them the right to refuse to testify against their spouse.
The federal government treats same-sex civil unions and marriages differently. Even though states have the right to make their own marriage laws, the federal government has the right to make certain alterations. The federal law does not recognize civil unions unless they are converted to marriages. Couples that are in a civil union do not have the same rights as a married couple according to federal laws. But since the same-sex marriage ban has been lifted, the problems for couples in same-sex civil unions have decreased. They can convert their civil union into a marriage and get the same rights as others.
Relationships are complicated and sometimes you might need someone to sort out some legal matters. You might want to consider hiring a family attorney to guide you through the recent changes in same-sex marriage laws as well as other family-related laws.