February 22, 2016

The Role of Civil Unions for Unmarried Couples in Illinois

Civil Unions

Many people mistakenly think of civil unions as something that no longer is needed because of the recent ruling of the Supreme Court extending the right of marriage to same sex couples all across the United States. However, in Illinois, civil unions are still an important part of family law that can benefit both heterosexual and homosexual partners.

Who Benefits from a Civil Union?

Couples, who for whatever reason do not want to get married, can still have lives that are emotionally and financially intertwined. Without the protections of marriage, many couples may face an uncertain future when the relationship breaks up.

The Illinois system for civil unions can be used by any couple to create an agreement to protect both partners, should the relationship later dissolve. This is especially important where a couple has children or has been together for many years.

How a Civil Union Is Created

An Illinois civil union is similar to a prenuptial agreement. It is basically a contract between two people who are in an intimate relationship. The civil union document spells out the responsibilities of both sides.

Each partner should be represented by a lawyer to make sure the final document is an accurate reflection of their desires and is fair to both sides. A civil union does not require a formal ceremony. It does require that the document is signed by both partners and that neither side is tricked or compelled into signing the civil union paperwork. All of the other formalities of the Illinois law that governs civil unions must be followed.

What Happens When a Couple with a Civil Union Splits Up?

If a couple with a civil union splits up, the property is divided up according to the agreement. If one side fails to honor his or her commitments, the other side can sue them in court.

While things like spousal maintenance and marital property do not apply to couples who are not legally married, arrangements for dealing with these issues can be made in a civil union.

Issues of custody, child support, and parenting time may still have to be approved by a court, even if addressed by a civil union. The court has the authority to override an agreement as it pertains to children, if that is in the best interest of the children.

If you have questions about civil unions or any other family law issue, you need to speak with a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney. Call the firm of Mulyk Laho Law, LLC today at 630-852-1100 to setup a consultation.