Wheaton family law attorney for civil unionsIn 2011, Illinois passed into law the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. This law enabled both same-sex and opposite-sex couples the freedom to enter into a civil union that would give them the same legal rights in Illinois as those provided by marriage. With the new term “civil union” meant to be a substitute for “domestic partnership,” all prior domestic partnerships registered would be honored, but any future similar relationships would be referred to as civil unions.

While civil unions in Illinois were initially meant to help same-sex couples achieve similar legal rights to married couples, these legal partnerships may now be pursued for other reasons. After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States in 2015, most states converted all domestic partnerships and civil unions to marriages; however, Illinois is one of the few states that kept civil unions despite this legalization. Now that all couples, regardless of sex, can get married, why would anyone choose a civil union instead of a marriage?

Benefits of Civil Unions

Since same-sex marriage is legal across the nation, fewer and fewer people are getting civil unions. However, since civil unions are open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, some people are still choosing civil unions over marriages in order to demonstrate their commitment to their romantic partners. Among the benefits of civil unions are:

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Wheaton cohabitation agreement attorneyA civil union is a legally recognized arrangement that may be used by a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, with rights similar to those of marriage. Couples may opt to be in a civil union temporarily until they get married, or for the rest of their lives. Illinois passed a law that officially recognized civil unions in 2011. Although not legally married, people in civil unions are entitled to many of the same benefits as married couples, which could include insurance coverage, survivorship, hospital visitation, and more. Civil unions were more common in the time period before gay marriage was legalized. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court removed all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all 50 states.

Rights to Benefits for a Civil Union Partner

Same-sex marriage is now legal in Ilinois, and it is often the best method for couples to receive the benefits that come with being in a committed relationship. However, some couples may not want to marry for various reasons. For example, if they were previously married and went through a bitter divorce, they may not wish to experience that again. Divorces can devastate family members emotionally and financially, especially if one spouse loses custody of a child or is forced to file for bankruptcy. A person may choose to remain unmarried in order to avoid repeating this situation.

Often referred to as “domestic partnerships,” civil unions are a type of relationship that grants limited rights to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples who cohabitate but who are not married. Civil union partners are eligible for the same coverage options as a spouse, so they will be able to join their partner’s health, dental, and life insurance plans. The children of a civil union partner are also entitled to the same coverage.

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