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Bar News - January 4, 2008

New Civil Unions Law Now in Effect

The new Civil Unions law (RSA 457-A) went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008. HB 437 was signed by New Hampshire’s Gov. Lynch on May 31, 2007.

The state will now recognize civil unions between two men or two women. Section 457-A:1 outlines the rights, obligations and responsibilities of parties entering into civil unions, and the processes by which civil unions may be established and dissolved.

Section 457-A:2 states that the same requirements and conditions that exist in RSA 457 (NH’s marriage law) shall govern civil unions, except that civil unions will only be allowed between two unmarried men or two unmarried women. The participants in such unions must be at least 18 years of age and will be subject to certain prohibitions.

Those who enter into civil unions will be entitled to all the rights and subject to all the responsibilities available under state law applying to any parties joined in marriage. In addition, civil unions legally contracted outside New Hampshire will be recognized in NH if the relationship does not violate any of the prohibitions existing in NH’s Civil Union law.

NHBA CLE presented a 3.75 hour program on "The New Law on Civil Unions" on Nov. 30, 2007. It is available as an online or as a downloadable podcast (CLE To Go) program. Look for it in the Family Law category under Online CLE programs at

An independent group, Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), produced a 44-page guide to the new law shortly after the bill’s passage this summer. While some of the material may be out-of-date, the publication provides a detailed discussion of many aspects of the law. The guide can be found at

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