Dupage County Lawyers

Civil Union Attorneys

REAL PROBLEMS. REAL SOLUTIONS.

Civil unions aren’t as widely used as they once were in Illinois; the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act of June 2014 granted all couples the freedom to marry. However, civil unions can still be a good choice for people who want some of the benefits of marriage. A civil union is a legal relationship that provides many of the same benefits and responsibilities that are provided to married couples in the state. Both gay and straight couples can be joined in civil unions.

A civil union is distinct legally from a domestic partnership, a cohabitation or domestic partner agreement or a same-sex marriage. If you decide to dissolve a civil union, you will have to go through a process similar to a divorce, with many of the same emotional and financial complexities. If you are considering entering or ending a civil union, just as in a marriage and divorce situation, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side to advocate for you.

The seasoned and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are well versed in the laws and issues concerning civil unions, marriage, and domestic partnerships.  We always focus on our clients’ needs and feelings, and we work to clarify and resolve the problems you are facing in the most effective and efficient manner.  We offer a free consultation to help you find the best solution for your individual situation.  Call us today for your free consultation or contact us online.

Differences between Civil Unions, Marriages, and Domestic Partnerships

Marriage is a legal status that is given to a couple by a state government and recognized by every state and nation around the world, and it provides more benefits than civil unions or domestic partnerships. Since same-sex marriages became legal, Illinois law treats parties to such a marriage and their children in the same way as marriages of opposite-sex couples. There are 1,138 federal rights and protections and 648 Illinois rights and protections for married couples and their families.

Some of the rights of marriage include:

  • Marriage is legally recognized in all states, and you can divorce in any state.
  • Certain tax benefits such as the ability to file joint tax returns are available only to married couples.
  • Married people are entitled to spousal federal benefits, such as social security, medical and veterans benefits and life insurance, and they have immigration benefits when petitioning for a non-citizen spouse.
  • Married people can put the entire family, including a partner and his/her children, on their medical and/or life insurance plan.
  • Married people are entitled to automatic inheritance, even without a will.
  • Married people do not have to testify against a partner in court.

A civil union is a legal status that provides many of the same protections as marriage, but only at the state level. If you are in a civil union, you do not receive federal protections, such as tax breaks and social security benefits.

Rights that you do have include:

  • Automatic hospital visitation rights, the right to access medical records, make medical decisions and to receive information about a spouse’s medical condition and treatment.
  • The right to make funeral arrangements and file a wrongful death claim.
  • The ability to inherit from a spouse’s estate if the spouse dies without a will.
  • The right to be included on a spouse’s health insurance policy.
  • The right to be foster parents and adopt children much the same as married couples. Any child born into the civil union is considered a child of both parents in the relationship.
  • The right to adopt a common last name.

A domestic partnership is also a legal status that gives some of the rights of marriage, but the rights and responsibilities are more limited.

Civil Union Facts

If for some reason you do not want to be married, civil unions are still an option for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Here are some facts you should know:

  • If you already have a civil union, you don’t have to convert to a marriage. If you do wish to convert, you can have your marriage backdated to when the civil union ceremony was held.
  • If you entered into a civil union or domestic partnership lawfully in another state, Illinois will recognize your relationship as a civil union.
  • If you or your partner were previously married or in a civil union or substantially similar legal relationship, you must provide the name, date, place, and court in which the marriage, civil union, or other legal relationship was dissolved or declared invalid or the date and place and proof of the former spouse or partner’s death.
  • Illinois residents who received a civil union elsewhere can upgrade their civil union to a marriage through conversion or through marriage.

Dissolving Relationships

When dissolving a civil union, property is a major issue. As in a marriage, civil unions create the presumption that all property obtained is owned jointly and must be fairly divided. Also, the law allows partners to seek visitation and child and spousal support from one another.

Partners in civil unions are entitled to legal protection under domestic violence laws. If there are any agreements before the civil union formally commenced, the agreements would be treated the same as prenuptial agreements.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

If you have questions and issues involving civil unions or marriages, or if you wish to dissolve your relationship, it helps to consult a family law attorney. The seasoned Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec have extensive experience and handle all family law cases with sensitivity, respect, and discretion.

At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., we made our reputation one client at a time.  We always focus on our clients’ needs and feelings, and we work to resolve the issues they are facing in the most effective and efficient manner, putting every ounce of our ability into every case. Our lawyers take the time to understand your goals and concerns and then develop a legal strategy designed to achieve those objectives.

With office locations in Woodridge and Chicago, we represent clients throughout the entire Chicagoland area. Call our DuPage County family law attorneys today to schedule your free initial consultation or contact us online.

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