When many people picture a family, they conjure images of a “traditional” family—a monogamous marital relationship between a man and a woman, who give birth to a child to whom both parents have a biological connection. For many years, however, families have not been so narrowly defined in practice. Divorce, blended step-families, adoption, LGBT families, all have contributed to the rich tapestry of different family configurations in this country.

There is no longer one kind of family unit, and society has recognized over time that many, through either desire or necessity, will order their relationships in ways that do not fit into a two-parent paradigm. Forming a family can occur in a number of different ways that were almost impossible to consider only 30 years ago. The New Jersey courts and legislature have been at the forefront in many ways of providing an expansive view of the legal recognition of different family formations.

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