Tag Archive for: civil union attorney

Beaming With Pride: Illinois Civil Unions

With just two days left of Pride Month, Masters Law Group looks back at the history of LGBTQ rights, as well as the legalities of Civil Unions in our great state of Illinois. 

June is widely celebrated as Pride Month to the world. The month of June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City when LGBT people stood up against police brutality and injustice and demanded fair treatment for all. LGBT people and their allies celebrate accomplishments achieved since Stonewall, but they also advocate for what needs to be done in order to secure full equal rights.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence are unfortunatley still rampant. Marriage equality still remains an issue at the forefront of Pride. What better way to close out Pride Month than with love and acceptance. Here’s what you need to know about Illinois Civil Unions.

What is a Civil Union?

Civil unions allow two adults, of either the same or opposite sex, to enter into a legally recognized relationship.

Civil unions first became legal in Illinois on June 1, 2011. A civil union is a legal relationship granted by the State of Illinois. A common misconception is that civil unions are only for same sex-couples. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who are in committed relationships can enter into a civil union in Illinois. Partners who enter into a civil union in Illinois are entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that state law provides to married spouses. 

It is important to note that civil unions entered into in Illinois are not recognized under federal laws. Partners to a civil union in Illinois are entitled to almost none of the obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits that federal law provides to married spouses. 

Civil Union Guidelines

You can enter into a civil union in Illinois if you are a same-sex or opposite-sex couple in a committed relationship. You and your partner must both be at least 18 years old (or with the sworn consent of your parents or legal guardians if you are 16 or 17 years old) and neither of you can already be in a marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship.

If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may enter into a civil union in Illinois if your parents or legal guardians appear before the county clerk when you apply for a civil union license, provide valid identification, and give sworn consent to you entering into a civil union. 

Illinois also does not allow civil unions between close relatives. Illinois law prohibits you from entering into a civil union if you or your partner are currently married or in a civil union or substantially similar legal relationship. To enter into a civil union, your prior marriage, civil union, or substantially similar legal relationship must either be dissolved or your previous spouse or civil union partner must have died. 

What Happens if We Enter into a Civil Union and Our Relationship Later Ends? 

If you enter into a civil union in Illinois, and later divorce or become legally separated, you will need to apply for dissolution of the civil union before the court can end your legal relationship. If you and/or your partner move to another state after entering into a civil union in Illinois, the courts of that state may dissolve your civil union. If your civil union cannot be dissolved by the courts in the state of your residence, it can be dissolved by an Illinois state court.

 The dissolution of civil unions follows the same procedures and is subject to the same rights and obligations that are involved in dissolving marriages. Illinois law will dissolve a civil union if either you or your partner establish grounds for dissolving the union, or if you have lived apart for at least two years and can establish that the union must be dissolved due to irreconcilable differences.

It is important to dissolve your civil union when the relationship ends. If you do not, your legal relationship with your civil union partner will continue.

Do You Need a Family Law Attorney for Your Civil Union? 

At Masters Law Group, we are committed to providing exceptional, individualized services to clients in civil union disputes. Our firm has extensive experience in this area of family law. We handle family law matters in civil unions and same-sex marriages, providing legal representation for clients throughout the state of Illinois. 

Whether you want to form a civil union or are in need of a civil union dissolution, we will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options. Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Why Some Couples Choose Civil Unions Over Marriage

If you want to make your partnership official you may be looking at all your options. Civil unions are recognized in a handful of states and often offer the same protections as marriage. Learn more about civil unions and how they compare to getting married here.

Civil unions are marriage-like agreements but there are some differences they share. Civil unions were created to allow same-sex couples to publicly commit to eachother without granting them perimission to marry.

Nowadays, civil unions are less relevant since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges). It’s important to note that there are many people who remain in civil unions or domestic partnerships despite the availability of same-sex marriage.

For these reasons, the distinctions between marriage and civil unions may still produce legal issues. Here’s a look at why some couples choose civil unions over marriage.

What is a Civil Union?

In Illinois, a civil union is a legal relationship between two people that gives them legal rights to marriage. Civil unions first became recognized in 2011, when the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act was passed. Civil unions can be entered by same-sex or opposite sex couples.

Partners who enter civil unions are granted the same protections, responsibilities and benefits that one would normally receive in a marriage. Eligibility for those wanting a civil union include the following:

  1. Must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Cannot be related – by the half or the whole blood or by adoption; an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, or by adoption; or between first cousins.
  3. Cannot enter civil unions prior to dissolution of marriage or similar legal relationships.
  4. Individuals who live out of state, as that civil union would not be legal in their home state.

It is important to note that while civil unions are legally recognized in Illinois, they are not federally recognized.

Benefits of a Civil Union

One of the biggest benefits that a civil union provides couples with is the same state rights as a married couple in Illinois. It is for this reason that many decide to join a civil union. If a couple decides that they don’t want to be married for personal reasons or other reasons, they would still receive the same legal protections as a married couple. 

The second biggest benefit of a civil union is the access to employment and healthcare benefits. In a civil union, you have access to your partner’s employer provided health insurance. Marriage oftentimes comes with social and religious obligations that some may want to demonstrate to their partner differently. A civil union is a great way to do those things. 

Here is a list of some of the benefits that a civil union and a marriage share:

  • Inheritance rights, or the right to automatically inherit from your spouse after he or she dies.
  • Bereavement leave to mourn for your spouse.
  • Right to your spouse’s employment benefits, including health insurance.
  • Automatic designation as next-of-kin by medical professionals.
  • Joint ownership of property, and community property rights if you’re in a community property state.
  • Joint state tax filings.
  • Joint parental rights over children born to or adopted by the couple.
  • Right not to testify against your civil union partner, and
  • Right to seek financial support or alimony after a dissolution from the civil union.

Limitations of Civil Unions

The biggest difference between a civil union and a marriage is that the former is not recognized by the federal government. Therefore, you will only get protection at a state level (and that is assuming you live in a state that recognizes civil unions.) It is because of this that couples in a civil union can’t receive the same federally based benefits that married couples receive. For example, the Social Security Administration gives benefits to partners in a marriage, but not necessarily those in a civil union. The surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for health coverage in a marriage, but not always in a civil union. Consequently, many couples are now opting to get married instead of entering a civil union. 

The other difference is that while marriages are recognized by every state (if you get married in Illinois it will be recognized in New York) civil unions are not. That means if you get a civil union certificate in one state and then move to another state you might not get the same benefits.

As a result of these differences, it is important to consider which option is best for your new family. Though a prenuptial agreement isn’t the most romantic item on the agenda, it’s a great way to protect you and your assets before entering a marriage or civil union. An experienced attorney can answer any questions that you might have about the process.

Final Thoughts

Now that same-sex marriages are recognized federally civil unions may be a lot less popular and common. In fact, only five states allow them: Illinois, Colorado, Hawaii,  Vermont, and New Jersey. However, civil unions can be beneficial in two circumstances:

  • If you or your partner don’t believe in marriage or don’t like the idea of getting married, but still want many of the same legal protections.
  • If you or your partner don’t want to be recognized as legally married by the federal government because of tax purposes.

Several unique issues can arise during the process of establishing or dissolving a civil union, so it is vital to have a knowledgeable lawyer to guide you through every step.

At Masters Law Group, we provide professional and individualized legal representation for a wide range of family law concerns, including civil unions. Our firm has dedicated considerable time in order to become knowledgeable and up to date in this new area of family law. Whether you want to form a civil union or are in need of a civil union dissolution, we will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.

Illinois Civil Unions

To celebrate the last day of Pride month, Masters Law Group dives into everything you need to know about protections, responsibilities and benefits of Civil Unions in our great state of Illinois.

There are significant victories that have been celebrated over the years when it comes to the legal battle of recognizing same-sex legal relationships. Before civil unions and same-sex marriages were allowed, the state of Illinois offered domestic partnerships in 2005. This allowed partners to receive health insurance and other benefits, but it didn’t include all the benefits one would receive in a civil union.

Civil Unions were created in the state of Illinois in 2011. They were significantly popular as same-sex marriage was not legalized yet. In 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Illinois. One year later, the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal in all 50 states (Obergefell v. Hodges). As we approach the end of pride month, same-sex couples in the state Illinois have the right to enter the process of forming a Civil Union.

What is a Civil Union?

A civil union is a legal relationship granted by the State of Illinois. Partners who enter civil unions are granted the same protections, responsibilities and benefits that one would normally receive in a marriage. Eligibility for those wanting a civil union include the following:

  1. Must be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Cannot be related – by the half or the whole blood or by adoption; an aunt or uncle and a niece or nephew, whether the relationship is by the half or the whole blood, or by adoption; or between first cousins.
  3. Cannot enter civil unions prior to dissolution of marriage or similar legal relationships.
  4. Individuals who live out of state, as that civil union would not be legal in their home state.

This process consists of applying for an obtaining a civil union is relatively easy. It starts by the couple applying for a certificate of civil union which takes 30 minutes to process. Civil unions can be certified by a person of the clergy or a judge. After you receive your certificate claiming that the civil union has been certified, they must file it to their respected county clerk within 10 days.

One of the only differences between a civil union and a marriage is that partners of a civil union can alter their legal form of commitment to be considered marriage, which requires getting a marriage license. Whereas married spouses cannot change their relationship to a civil union.

Step-Parenting & Civil Unions

One of the current cracks in the Illinois legal code is stepparents’ rights following the end of a civil union. The Act contains only the word “married” and not “joined in a civil union”.  The reason that a partner to a civil union does not have any legal rights available is because, under the current law, partners to a civil union lack standing. Standing is required in order to bring this matter into court. This hole in the legal code can lead to emotional consequences, as partners can be prevented from seeing the child by the biological parent, has no legal remedy. Recent cases brought in Illinois have shown that partners involved in civil union dissolution can face frustrating battles when seeking to remain a part of their child’s life.

Hiring the right Civil Union Attorney

By hiring a knowledgeable and experienced civil union attorney – who understands the ins and outs of civil union law and civil law dissolution will only put you and your family at ease. Masters Law Group concentrates in various areas which will provide you with reassurance. We have dedicated ample amounts of time in order to become knowledgeable and up to date in this new area of family law. We will take the time to fully understand your situation and provide honest advice regarding your options.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, Contact us here today to schedule a consultation.