Do Civil Union Partners Have the Same Rights as Divorcing Spouses?
Since 2014, same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois. This means that same-sex married couples have the same rights and benefits under Illinois law as opposite-sex married couples, and it also means that they must go through the same process to get a divorce. However, many same-sex couples in Illinois are in civil unions rather than marriages, whether because of a personal choice or because their union began before same-sex marriage was legal. If you are in a civil union with your partner, you may wonder what will happen if the relationship fails and you wish to dissolve the union.
Property Division and Maintenance in Civil Union Dissolution
According to Illinois law, the sections of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act regarding the divorce process also apply to the dissolution of a civil union. In part, this means that both partners have a right to most forms of property, assets, and debts that were acquired during the union, including the home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more. These assets and debts will need to be distributed fairly between partners based on the same criteria used in the division of marital assets.
The dissolution of a civil union can also include an order for maintenance or alimony if it is necessary to ensure a fair resolution. This means that the partner with greater income and assets could be ordered to make payments to the partner who needs help supporting themself. Keep in mind that maintenance obligations end not only if the receiving partner gets married, but also if they enter into a new civil union or even start living with a new partner.
When a civil union is dissolved, issues like the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may also be involved, provided that both partners are considered to be the children’s legal parents under Illinois law. Fortunately, Illinois treats marriages and civil unions the same with regard to the presumption of parentage. This means that if the child was born to one of the parents during the civil union, both parents will be presumed to have parental rights. The same can be true if the civil union started after the child’s birth if both partners are listed on the child’s birth certificate, though this can make matters more complicated. In this case, pursuing a stepparent or second-parent adoption can better ensure that both partners’ rights are protected if the civil union ends.
Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney
If you want to dissolve your civil union, you need an attorney who has experience with the unique aspects of these cases. Our St. Charles, IL family lawyers at Shaw Family Law, P.C. will help you understand and protect your parental and property rights. For a free consultation, contact our office today by calling 630-584-5550.