Tag Archives: domestic partnership

Are There Benefits to Getting a Civil Union Instead of a Marriage?

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:

  • Same Rights in Illinois as Marriage—Overall, civil unions grant partners the same rights and legal protections as married couples in Illinois. However, civil unions are not recognized by federal law. The state rights with civil unions allowed for in Illinois include the following:

    • Equitable division assets and debts upon dissolution—Civil unions can be dissolved in much the same way as married couples can get a divorce. If such dissolution takes place, all property, assets, and debts can be divided equitably between the two partners.

    • Parenting time and parental responsibilities—This is treated the same in Illinois for those in a civil union as it is for those in a marriage, including determining how parents will share custody of the children from the civil union, when children will spend time with each parent, etc.

    • Health insurance coverage—Just as one spouse in a marriage can get health insurance coverage through his/her employer for his/her spouse, so can most partners in civil unions, depending on the employer.

  • Psychological Well-Being—Entering into a civil union can provide emotional benefits for partners. They might be happy to show commitment to one another by entering into such an agreement, but they will not feel restrained by the traditional label of “marriage.” In some cases, couples may prefer to avoid all of the usual trappings of a marriage, such as the wedding planning, the ceremony, and all other major activities that are expected of most married couples.

  • Possible Tax Benefits—One reason a couple may choose a civil union instead of a marriage is the potential tax advantages. While they will have essentially the same rights as a married couple in the state of Illinois, since the federal government does not recognize civil unions in the same way as marriages, the couple in the civil union might be able to avoid the marriage tax penalty. They will be able to pool their income throughout the year without being penalized come tax time by being taxed at a higher income bracket. However, this tax exclusion also means that the couple would not qualify for many federal benefits that married couples can receive.

Contact a Wheaton, IL Civil Union Attorney

If you are thinking about a civil union in Illinois instead of a marriage, consider giving a DuPage County domestic partnership lawyer a call at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation. With the guidance of the knowledgeable team at Andrew Cores Family Law Group, you will fully understand the benefits and drawbacks of a civil union. We will clearly explain all your present and future options, including addressing cohabitation agreements or separation agreements.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/2014/06/05/are-domestic-partnerships-a-way-for-heterosexual-couples-to-avoid-the-marriage-tax-penalty/#476ad2fa4d43

https://www.thebalance.com/domestic-partnerships-vs-marriage-what-s-more-financially-beneficial-4172622

Am I Entitled to Benefits If I Have a Civil Union in Illinois?

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.

Under Illinois law, the recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships allows unmarried couples to include both of their names on legal documents, such as mortgages, titles, wills, and more. In order to receive additional protection, partners may wish to create a cohabitation agreement, which is essentially a contract between the couple that can address a variety of issues, such as how to divide assets if the relationship ends. This type of agreement can provide certain rights, such as ensuring that each person receives an equal share of the property owned by the couple in the event they go their separate ways. It is important to note that a cohabitation agreement cannot specify the terms of child support or parenting time; those have to be decided by a court.

Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney

Two people who are in a loving relationship may decide to live together but choose not to get married for various reasons. A civil union can include some of the same benefits given to married spouses. If you are considering entering into this type of arrangement, Andrew Cores Family Law Group will help you and your partner understand the legal aspects of this type of agreement and your rights to property in case of a breakup. Call a Wheaton civil union lawyer at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation.

Sources:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/civil-unions-and-domestic-partnership-statutes.aspx

https://www2.illinois.gov/cms/benefits/stateemployee/documents/domestic_partner_and_civil_union_partner_faqs.pdf

https://www.vvsd.org/cms/lib/IL01905528/Centricity/Domain/80/Insurance/Health/civil_union_faq.pdf

https://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/us/same-sex-marriage-fast-facts/index.html

 

Terminating a Domestic Partnership in Illinois

Wheaton civil union attorneyPrior to the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, many same-sex couples entered into a domestic partnership. However, this term has been sunsetted in Illinois, meaning the laws regarding these relationships have been terminated. Both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples now have a choice between civil unions and marriage.

If you hold a Domestic Partnership Certificate, you do not automatically qualify for the rights that married spouses enjoy, such as benefits, survivorship, or ownership rights. Your domestic partnership is still a matter of public record, thus maintaining its validity; however, no future Domestic Partnership Certificates will be issued. The term “domestic partnership” now refers to an informal, long-term, committed relationship rather than a legally binding union.

Entering into a Civil Union or Marriage

While same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the United States, some couples do not want to enter into a marriage and opt for a civil union instead. The option is available to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike. The primary difference between civil union and marriage is that a civil union is solely recognized within the state of Illinois, while marriage is federally recognized. According to the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, once you enter into a civil union, you are granted many of the same rights in Illinois as those offered to married spouses. If you opt to enter into a civil union or marriage, any existing domestic partnership automatically terminates without further documentation.

Dissolving a Partnership

If, however, you would like to end the relationship altogether, you may dissolve the existing domestic partnership by completing an Affidavit of Termination. The form does not need to be completed by both parties, but if only one party is present, the absent party must be notified by mail. In addition to filing the form with the County Clerk’s Office, a $30.00 fee is required. Termination is valid 30 days after the official filing date. Unfortunately, a domestic partnership does not offer any of the protections provided through marriage or civil unions.

Dissolution of a Civil Union

As with marriage, you may legally terminate a civil union through dissolution or a declaration of invalidity. The procedure to dissolve a civil union is the same as divorce, with the only difference being the wording. Previously, domestic partnerships did not have the same legal protections.

Ask a DuPage County Domestic Partnership Lawyer

The lines between the domestic partnership, civil unions, and marriage are blurry, and the laws surrounding these type of partnerships continue to evolve each year. If you have questions regarding your rights in any of these relationships or the process of dissolving them, a Wheaton family law attorney can help. At Andrew Cores Family Law Group, we will clarify any questions you may have and aggressively defend your interests should you choose to terminate your relationship. Call our office today at 630-871-1002 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/agency/domestic-partnerships

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=096-1513

https://www.isba.org/ibj/2011/05/aguidetothenewillinoiscivilunionlaw