First and foremost, it is important for you to determine whether you are in a civil union or a domestic partnership as these two relationships are handled very differently in Illinois.
Since 2011, Illinois has recognized civil unions to be a legal relationship between two people granted by the State. This relationship does not discriminate between same-sex or opposite-sex couples and can be granted to any two (2) persons of the age eighteen (18) or older who apply with the court to enter into a civil union. However, in order to be considered in a civil union, you must have obtained a valid license with the State.
With that said, following the United States officially recognizing same-sex marriage, Illinois enacted several statutes effectively making civil unions unnecessary and allowing couples to convert their civil unions to marriages meaning that they are less commonplace today than they were in years past.
Unlike civil unions, domestic partnerships are not legally recognized unions by the State of Illinois. In many states, domestic partnerships are formed when a couple has resided together for a certain amount of time and even hold themselves out as being married or in a long-term committed relationship, without a license or certificate of any kind. However, in Illinois, even if you have done these things, there are not currently any laws legally recognizing the relationship. Unfortunately, as a result, there are no protections or steps you can take when your partner dies or chooses to terminate the relationship.
Well, the good news is, if you are in a civil union, even if that union was never converted to a marriage, you are afforded the same protections, rights, and obligations as any other person in a marriage. Meaning that a termination of a civil union is treated identically to a divorce and all laws regarding the allocation of the marital estate, maintenance, attorneys fee, etc., are the same.
If you are considering dissolving your civil union, the first steps you need to take are to file a Petition for Dissolution of a Civil Union with the appropriate court. If your partner has already taken these steps, it is important to immediately consult counsel in order to file the necessary response or counterpleading to memorialize your position with the Court.
Whether you are considering dissolving your civil union or your partner has already started the process, the divorce attorneys at Ward Family Law, LLC can help guide you through this confusing process. If you have any questions about the process, contact our experienced attorneys today.
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