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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.