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Civil Unions and Dissolution

States define “marriage” differently, leaving the issues related to same-sex marriages in a state of flux across the country. In an effort to address these issues, Illinois passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Union Act, which allows for the creation and dissolution of non-marital civil unions.

The Illinois law allows any two qualified individuals, of the same or different sexes, to enter into a civil union. The new law provides all the legal benefits and protections as are provided to married couples under Illinois law. It does not, however, extend those benefits or protections as are provided under federal law.

For example, individuals who enter into a civil union will be permitted to file a joint state tax return, but must file separate federal returns. They may seek maintenance upon dissolution of the civil union, enter into pre-civil union agreements to protect property, gain automatic rights of hospital visitation and medical decision-making for their partner, have the right to inherit in the absence of a will, and gain the right to certain spousal health insurance benefits.

These are but a few of the rights partners in a civil union have available to them under the new law. But those rights come with responsibilities as well, such as the duty to provide joint financial support and joint liability for family debts.

For advice about this rapidly changing area of the law, contact a member of ZRFM’s divorce and family law team or telephone (815) 459-2050.

If you are interested in learning about the workplace and civil unions, please link to an article on our law firm’s main site titled How the Illinois Civil Union Act Affects Employers. You can return to mchenrydivorcelawyers.com afterward by hitting the back button on your browser or by navigating through ZRFM’s Divorce & Family Law page on the main site.