Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, many people have questions about how existing civil unions and domestic partnerships may be affected. If you are in a civil union and would like your union recognized as marriage, one of our experienced family law attorneys in DuPage County can help.
We can advise you as to how moving from a civil union to marriage under Illinois law may affect your tax liability, health insurance, immigration status, and other responsibilities, protections, and benefits. We can also help you determine whether keeping your domestic partnership as a civil union rather than a marriage will best suit your family's needs.
History of Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions in Illinois
While the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in its landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision last year, same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois since 2014. In addition, civil unions have been available to same-sex couples in Illinois since 2011.
Unlike some other states, Illinois' civil union confers nearly identical state benefits, obligations ,and protections upon partners as marriage does for spouses. However, prior to the federal Defense of Marriage Act being struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, there remained some discrepancies between the rights afforded spouses and domestic partners in terms of federal benefits. Your family law lawyer in DuPage County can advise you of your rights under current state and federal law.
Are Couples in Civil Unions Required to Convert Their Union to a Marriage?
Civil unions remain an option for domestic partnership in Illinois, for both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. You may still obtain a civil union, as opposed to a marriage license, and you may keep your existing civil union rather than opt to change it to a marriage.
Do Civil Unions Become Marriages, Now that Same-Sex Marriage is Legal?
Civil unions - whether obtained in Illinois or out-of-state - do not automatically convert to marriages. If you and your partner would like to convert your civil union to a marriage, there are several steps you will need to take. A family law attorney who handles domestic partnerships will be able to advise you as to what your next steps should be.
Civil Unions, Divorce and Marriage in Illinois
If you are in a civil union with one person and wish to marry someone else, you will need to obtain a civil union dissolution before entering into a marriage with a different partner. If you wish to marry the partner with whom you share a civil union, you will not need to dissolve the civil union first.
Consult an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney Who Handles Domestic Partnership Matters
While some refer to converting a civil union to a marriage as "upgrading" the civil union, our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys respect that not every couple in a civil union chooses to marry. If you are exploring whether marriage is right for you and your partner, one of our experienced lawyers can discuss your options with you - including the preparation of prenuptial agreements if applicable.