Tag Archive for: LGBTQ Attorney

Navigating Civil Unions During Pride Month

June is known worldwide as Pride Month, a time when the LGBTQ+ community and its allies come together to advocate for a more inclusive future. As we celebrate Pride Month, we must recognize civil unions’ role in providing legal protection for same-sex couples.

Illinois became the first state to legalize civil unions on June 1, 2011. For many same-sex couples, civil unions represent the legal acknowledgment of their relationship, offering rights and responsibilities similar to those of marriage. However, navigating the legal complexities of civil unions can be challenging, especially in jurisdictions where LGBTQ+ rights are still evolving. In this blog, we will explore civil unions, dissolutions, and how a family law attorney can help. Here’s what you should know.

What Is A Civil Union?

Civil unions allow two adults of the same or opposite sex to enter a legally recognized relationship. Contrary to a common misconception, civil unions are not exclusive to same-sex couples. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples can enter into a civil union in Illinois. Partners entering a civil union are entitled to the same legal obligations, protections, and benefits that state law provides to married spouses, including:

  • Property rights.
  • Healthcare decisions.
  • Inheritance rights.
  • Access to family-related legal protections.

Civil unions help ensure that couples receive equal treatment and recognition under state law. Understanding the distinction between state and federal recognition is vital for couples considering a civil union. However, if you have entered a civil union with your partner but have decided to move on, you will need a civil union dissolution.

Understanding Civil Union Dissolution

In Illinois, the process of dissolving a civil union follows similar procedures to that of a traditional divorce. A party to a civil union may petition the Court to dissolve the civil union just as with the Dissolution of Marriage. You must draft a Petition to Dissolve a Civil Union alleging similar facts as in a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and follow similar procedures below. Here is a closer look at the dissolution process and what a family law attorney can guide you through:

  1. File a Petition to Dissolve a Civil Union with the county circuit court clerk where it was granted.
  2. Provide the respondent with a copy of the petition and a summons, notifying them of the dissolution proceedings.
  3. Attempt to reach a settlement agreement through negotiation or mediation outside of Court.
  4. The case may proceed to trial if no settlement is reached or there are contested issues.
  5. The Court will issue a final judgment of dissolution.
  6. After dissolution, obtain a certified copy of the Dissolution of Civil Union records from the county circuit court clerk for legal documentation.

Consulting with a divorce attorney experienced in civil union law can help ensure that the process proceeds smoothly and that your rights are protected.

The Role of a Family Law Attorney

Establishing or dissolving a civil union can create unique challenges and legal complexities. At Masters Law Group, our attorneys provide professional legal representation for civil unions. Our attorneys have dedicated years and resources to understanding and fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. To showcase our experience, here are a few ways we can help:

  • Experienced Mediators: Erin E. Masters is approved as a Mediator for the Cook County Domestic Relations Division and offers private mediation services. The firm’s mediation counselors have extensive experience in family law and are skilled in facilitating productive discussions between divorcing spouses.
  • Experienced Litigators: Our attorneys meticulously prepare legal arguments, gather evidence, and strategically plan to help secure your most favorable outcome.
  • Conflict Resolution: Our divorce attorneys are well-rounded in conflict resolution. We focus on finding peaceful solutions for all parties involved, including their children.
  • Protecting Your Interests: Masters Law Group attorneys work to protect your legal rights and the best interests of you and your children.

LGBTQ+ individuals can benefit from accessing diverse community resources tailored to their needs, complementing the assistance a family law attorney provides. These resources offer emotional support, legal guidance, and connections within the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ Community Resources

Chicago, Illinois, boasts a vibrant LGBTQ+ community with numerous resources dedicated to supporting individuals in civil unions. The Center on Halsted is a comprehensive LGBTQ+ community center offering various services, including legal clinics, counseling, and support groups.

The Howard Brown Health Center also provides LGBTQ+-affirming healthcare services, including primary care, mental health services, and special programs for transgender and non-binary individuals. 

The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance focuses on creating safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ youth in schools through advocacy and education. These organizations are vital in providing support, resources, and community connections for individuals in civil unions.

Celebrating Pride Month With Masters Law Group

As we celebrate Pride Month, it’s essential to recognize the ongoing struggles of same-sex couples. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable family law attorney can help individuals navigate civil unions successfully.

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

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Child Visitation Rights for Same Sex Couples

Happy LGBTQ Month! To celebrate Pride month, Masters Law Group dives into everything you need to know about Child Visitation (Parenting Time) Rights for Same Sex Couples in our great state of Illinois.

It’s been eight years since Illinois legalized same-sex marriage in the state. If you are a spouse in a same-sex marriage, you may be unfamiliar with Illinois’ visitation rights laws. Though the same statutory provisions apply regardless of same or opposite sex parents, the laws can be complex.

Masters Law Group understands how difficult divorce is for parents who want nothing but the best for their children. Rest assured, our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of same-sex child custody and vistation laws in order to help you. Here’s a look at Parenting Time in Illinois for Same Sex Couples.

What are Child Visitation Rights?

Child Visitation Rights is the in-person time spent between a child and the child’s parent, or guardian which can fall under a grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, step-parent, or any person designated under subsection (d) of Section 602.7.

The amount of time that a parent or guardian is allowed to visit their child depends on many things. A court won’t restrict visitation in either a joint custody arrangement or a sole custody situation except when it’s necessary to protect a child’s welfare. Under Illinois law, the restriction of parenting time refers to any limit or condition on parenting time, including supervision.

Courts in Illinois don’t typically place restrictions on parenting time, unless necessary to prevent serious endangerment to a child. In Illinois, courts can create restrictions if they feel it necessary in order to protect the child, here are a couple examples of the following:

  • Supervision at visits
  • Mandate locations for visits
  • Deny visits when the parent is under the influence of drugs/alcohol or has used them within a designated period preceding the visit; and
  • Deny overnight visits

It’s important to note that only parents have a legal right to parenting time. However, there are circumstances where guardians may ask for a visitation order from the court when they have been denied reasonable visitation.

Same-Sex Parents Have the Same Parenting Time Rights

In 2015, the Overgefell v. Hodges case went to the US Supreme Court which handed a decision that put same-sex couples on equal footing with all other spouses in domestic relations matters.  People of the same-sex can marry, divorce, and address all of the key issues that come up when dissolving their marriage. The basis of this ruling is the 14th Amendment which prohibits the government from denying a person of certain rights without due process.

States were violating this constitutional concept by forbidding same-sex marriage so the Justices made it legal across the board. As such, same-sex couples can – and must – address child custody, visitation, and child support in any divorce case involving minor children.

Illinois Law on Child Visitation/Parenting Time For Same-Sex Couples

Illinois divorce law uses the terms “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time to refer to the various issues involved with raising a child. Here are the following provisions:

  • Parenting Time: This concept goes hand in hand with the idea of traditional visitation, where the parent enjoying the time with the child is responsible for the care of the child and making non-significant decisions about the child.
  • Parenting Plan: When a couple divorces, they must submit a Parenting Plan to the court outlining agreements on decision-making and parenting time. Parents who cannot agree may file a separate Parenting Plan and the court will make a decision based upon the child’s best interests.

Illinois Parenting Time Guidelines

Illinois prefers shared parenting time whenever it’s in the child’s best interests. In shared parenting time, the child spends periods with both parents.

A judge must approve all parenting time schedules, even when parents come to an agreement in a settlement. If parents can’t agree, each submits a proposal, and the court decides.

Keep in mind that schedules should align with your child’s needs and can affect your child support payments.

The schedule is a part of your parenting plan, meaning it becomes a legally-binding court order with a judge’s approval. It is important to follow the schedule as written, though parents can agree on small tweaks or ask the court to modify the order.

Hiring an Experienced Attorney

By hiring a knowledgeable family law attorney – who is highly experienced in same-sex family law issues  – you will only help put you and your family at ease. 

Masters Law Group represents individuals in both their initial quest to set a parenting time schedule, as well as parents looking to modify a previously determined schedule.

Throughout her career, attorney Erin E. Masters has focused her practice on all areas related to family law, including divorce, child custody and support, paternity issues, visitation and parenting time, pre- and postnuptial agreements, prosecuting and defending Orders of Protection, and many other areas involving domestic relations and dissolution of marriage.

Furthermore, attorney Anthony G. Joseph is also on the list of approved Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representatives for the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. So you can rest assured you are in the best possible hands.

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.